“A poem should not mean
Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish
And Robert Michael Oliver takes MacLeish’s statement to the fullest, as he performs his poems and the poems of classic poets, such as William Butler Yeats, Samuel Coleridge, Emily Dickenson, Langston Hughes, William Blake, and others.
Michael began his life as a Poet Performer with his one-man interdisciplinary performance piece, Embodying Poe, which took seven of Edgar Allan Poe’s more mystical poem, weaved them together with bio-historical narrative, accompanied by visuals and music, and launched them into the 2011 Capital Fringe Festival.
The show received rave reviews.
Since then Michael has performed all over town, but mostly at Performetry, a poetry and performance event organized by The Performing Knowledge Project, which he founded and co-directs along with Elizabeth Bruce. Performetry takes place on the 3rd Sunday of the month at Bloombars, a community arts center at 3222 11th Street, NW, Washington DC. The show runs from 6:00 to 8:00.
Although Poe is best known for his tales of horror and suspense, most of his writings deal with essential human struggles and have a deep philosophic and spiritual underpinning. His poems and his stories deal with people in the throes of loneliness, despair, and loss. In this sense Poe, the Horror Writer, is trumped by Poe the Poet and Poe the Spiritual Adventurer. Embodying Poe brings this Poe persona directly to his audience.
In Spring 2013, he starred in The Raven, a short film of that poem from Embodying Poe. With the Sanctuary Theatre’s Performing Knowledge Project and a team of creative artists (Yitna Firdyiwek, Aashish Edadadampil, and Doug Fraser), the film is currently entered into several film festivals.
He and the team at the Performing Knowledge Project is currently developing an new Poetry-on-Film, Poe’s Eureka. For more on that film, click here.
This summer, in the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival, Michael opens Song of Myself: The Whitman Project, his second interdisciplinary performance piece that takes on the famous American epic. The piece combines film, photography, and music.