Russian Poet German Lukomnikov

German Lukomnikov in Moscow in 2009


the fabulous discomfort and humor of this video gets me. also the weird retro look of it in spite of the obvious technical aspects, projection, etc. but that low contrast in black and white which feels like pre-color television somehow.

but what i want to attend to is the sound of this piece/recording.

there seems to be a cut (@ 1:37). & there are surely "parts" with edges more or less discernible. what i don't know is what it is called (is it "only sound" or is it somehow "Azor's Paw only sound") … hard for me to guess.

what really zaps me about this recording is the first section of wordless (and not even word-suggestive) vocal sounds and then the end. the first section has all these small vocalizations which in large part i would think could be used with words and not stand out all that much - well, maybe that crooning whine at 1:18 or the last thing before the cut this sort of yes/no feeling thing that becomes like the squeak of a spring - but many of the other sounds are not that unusual in spoken discourse, though we tend to ignore them when recounting what was said (we might call that retrospective semanticism and think of it as a bias). "here is an idea i can steal" i said to myself and i did (but will anyone be able to see where or how - the evidence is already out there). so that would be section one of this piece as i hear/parse it.

but then after the cut - in section two - things are more word-based for some time and don't have quite the same impact on me, though they begin to drift in looser and looser, more pitch-arc'd ways toward section three. in this section tho his utterances seem to echo hesitancies, uncertainties… at one point around 3 minutes this sing-songy repetition emerges - which again, i think that i at least do and suspect others do too; taking a word or phrase and chanting it somehow with however much or little melody. anyway...

… by 3:40 or so the transition seems to have been clear to a third section (this edge is much blurrier, or maybe it is a gradual build and not an edge at all). everything gets further from anything like conventional "word-space" and Lukominikov works with particles and the sounds between those of language and "mouth noises" and…

i'm always unhappy, i feel interrupted and annoyed when it ends. and yet, perhaps, relieved as well, as it takes a certain attention which i am not using when just sitting here, or having a conversation with someone, etc. and such attention is not endless, though here i feel more than able to give it.

there is also the twinned terms i opened with - humor and discomfort. the "how would i introduce this to so&so" thought experiment, where so&so is your great aunt lou or your assistant manager boss guy or whomever you picture as a tough sell for anything this self-consciously engaged in not playing the communication game while being nonetheless ludic, or maybe ruminative, or maybe something else (where ludic gets calls narcissism, and ruminative labelled pretentious and the whole non-communicative is just something that can't be fit into their universe). imagining playing that game with this video and whoever it is that i imagine gets at the discomfort somewhat. Lukomnikov seems quite comfortable with silences without a need to fill all the space tightly or to demonstrate a physical skill with language making (that is a bad way of saying this, but I am thinking of Christian Bök as a contrast, Bök clearly has amazing mouth-based chops aka skills, etc - as here in this performance at the Whitney, but let's get back to Lukomnikov

the text below the video as found on youtube
Герман Лукомников на фестивале "Лапа Азора only sound" 
  seems to say
Herman Lukomnikov at the "Azor's Paw only sound" ..but the G-translation of his name seems more common, though i did see "Guerman" to make it a bit more complex.

I got curious. There is no wikipedia page for him. There are some other videos of him reading, which I'll come back to below, but I was hoping for more info. Some googling got me a few bits.

1st I looked at this report sent to poet Maria Damon and housed at the EPC, with just a short mention of Lukomnikov, but it struck me as amusing. The author of this is Masha Zavialova, in the midst of her longer report on The Russian Poetry Festival Oct. 17-19, 1998, St. Petersburg she mentions Lukominokov;
Bonifatsii (German Lukomnikov) - a charming person and performance artist read some of his short and extremely witty (for us who live here) poems. One of them: "Why don't I fly?" (several times with different modulations of voice but very romantically) And suddenly in a matter-of-fact and slightly offended tone "Why don't I fly? I fly."
This made me more curious… and next I read this;
Potty About Poetry
25 August 2000
By Anna Arutunyan The Moscow Times
How can one characterize the poetry of German Lukomnikov, who attributes much of his poetry to his alter ego, Boniface? Similarities exist between Lukomnikov’s work and the kind of absurd children’s rhyme established by writers like Daniil Kharms and Kornei Chukovsky —poets who play with short stanzas and diminutive puns in their verse — but Lukomnikov, who often uses obscenities, is by no means a writer of children’s poems.
Lukomnikov (or Boniface) — Lukomnikov insists they are two different people — writes with an innocence and honesty that is so regularly masked among his contemporaries by cynicism and irony. He makes fun of his background and plays with words, but maintains an air of a barely discovered underground poet writing among friends in his attic.
But is there a name for the work of the virtual pair of Lukomnikov and Boniface, who write and illustrate their own works? Dirty limericks, perhaps, or childish farce? Or maybe it is something like those art-scene hooligans with a cult following, the Mitki, who create humorous illustrations with companion rhymes.
Associated with beer and hippies and enjoying a large following, the Mitki have managed to seep into the mainstream, but the same cannot be said of Lukomnikov, whose poetry is not only still marginal, but too varied to be characterized. His paintings can be childlike, with inscriptions of meaningless puns like "Kitayets kita yest" — which can mean either "the Chinaman is a whale" or "the Chinaman eats a whale" — which appears under a painting of an Asian-looking boy eating a fish.
Other works are earnest communications with an evidently strong lyrical background that reveal the vulnerability of a poet interacting with the world around him: "If only someone knew how I fear people! /How strange that worldwide neighborhood seems to me/ Of glaring monsters. I am becoming childlike/ As if in a sea of ugly swans (O kto by znal, kak ya boyus’ lyudei! / Kak diko mne vsemirnoye sosedstvo / Glazastykh chudishch. Ya vpadayu v detstvo, / Kak budto v more gadkikh lebedei.)
In this way, Lukomnikov hovers somewhere between poet, comedian and artist. The man who has characterized himself as a "poet, a human being of the male sex, and an inhabitant of Earth and the solar system," Lukomnikov plays out an exchange with his persistent alias, Boniface, on stage. If determining to what extent their poetry (and personalities) differ is of any interest to you, don’t pass up the opportunity to see their odd duet this week. 
German Lukomnikov reads his Poetry of the Season at 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Project O.G.I club, located at 8/12 Potapovsky Pereulok, Building 2 (enter through the courtyard). Metro Chistye Prudy. Tel. 927-5609. For more information, write ogi@mail.ru
i don't know enough about contemporary Russian poetry to say squat about this, though i do have a book by Daniil Kharms. i also like hearing about this group the Mitki discussed here and would be interested to know more of them, but back to the thread….

this gives me lots to think about. i cannot tell from watching or listening when Boniface is involved and when he isn't - so sadly, that whole intrigue will remain opaque, but this article generally charges up my curiosity. and this poem is surely one that would work for me;
If only someone knew how I fear people! 
How strange that worldwide neighborhood seems to me
Of glaring monsters. I am becoming childlike
As if in a sea of ugly swans
… but i should mention that i also dropped the original language text given for this poem in the article above into google translator as well and, being set to "detect language" is did not mark this as russian but Slovak and it could translate less than half of it. so is Lukomnikov not Russian at all?
There are several more videos on youtube. I'll leave their viewing up to you…

German Lukomnikov shows a younger Lukomnikov (1998) and while i am lost with the language, this one holds my attention quite well. i'll not go through why and how and so forth, but there is much humor and sound stuff here. enjoyable. also nice that he "flies" away at the end.

German Lukomnikov  rather more annoying video with noisy camera and crowd noise. Lukomnikov is doing some emphatic sound stuff at the end with what i assume are words and fragments tho.

POET GUERMAN LUKOMNIKOV is a small group setting and he is doing more sentency or phrasal stuff with odd slanted repetitions. lots of folks laugh.

Герман Лукомников в Булгаковском this is in the same venue as the previous one, and is yet more chanted and looping though using (i assume) phrases and sentences. again, a good bit of laughing.

Lukomnikov.divx  this too sounds more playfully semantic, rather than pushing hard toward sound. i'd love to hear from anyone who knows the language.

Velikiy Poet Lukomnikov is yet another venue with a big crowd (poetry standards) he is a bit hard to hear in spite of the amplification at moments and there are crowd noises and responses. Luko seems busy with these tightening and loosening patterns imposed on long string of text. big cheers at the end.

it seems that i also found his livejournal account where i stole that picture with the finger puppets. but scanning through it a bit i found some paintings as well....

Illustration of a poem by German Lukomnikov by Dmitry Shirokov
anyway, i like what i've found and hope to hear more of German Lukomnikov

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