artist/author statement
Laura Winton

The impetus for "The City" was born on a bus bench in a suburb of Minneapolis. I often do some of my best writing on public transportation, paying attention to the scenery, the arguments, the colorful people, the passing from neighborhood to neighborhood. The different segments of "The City" were all written in different locations, as meditations on my surroundings. As with most of my work, it was not initially meant to be put together, and in fact, a few of the sections were initially stand-alone poems that I decided worked better within this longer piece. The opening, section I, was originally a Dadaist inspired cut-up poem and to be honest, I can’t remember at this point if the lines were pulled from out of my own writing and journals or books, or some combination thereof.

The point of the piece, then, is not to present a unified voice or vision of life in the city, but a series of disjointed experiences, snapshots, if you will, of different aspects of urban life. It is also a kind of elegy for the neglect of American cities. The blackouts in St. Louis and Queens, New York, this past summer (2005) tell us that money is not being put into maintaining the infrastructures of our cities at all and it has been my contention in this and other pieces I’ve written that the city does not actually exist for the people who live within its boundaries, but for the tourists, the workers, and the revelers, who come into the city for their own purposes but may not have any investment in the health or future of its residents.

That said, my texts deal more with themes and images than with a unified message or meaning. They’re not so much meant to be “gotten” as they are to be “experienced” and to create images and unite the verbal and the visual in the mind of the reader or the hearer. I often caution my audiences at live readings not to devote so much energy into figuring out the piece or what it “means,” which audiences and readers have been taught so often that they are supposed to do.

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