Sue in Berlin

Sue in Berlin

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Author: Carla Harryman

Publisher: Presses Universitaires de Rouen (2018)

Carla Harryman's Sue in Berlin is a collection of six genre blending pieces of poetry and performance that are informed in varying degree by musical, verbal, and physical improvisation. Composed between 2001 and 2015, each of the works are written for both the page and for live performance and are, what Harryman calls "recalcitrant texts," meant to perform their own object status "as both linked to and separate from the live performance of its language." Deeply collaborative, the pieces in Sue in Berlin are born from Harryman's improvisational work with both performers and musicians, while they touch on topics that span from childhood and gender, to race and the social construction of space, to Detroit Techno and noise music. Works in the collection have been performed nationally and internationally: in San Francisco, Detroit, New York, Chicago, Austria, Germany, France, and the Czech Republic. Never settling between poetry and theater, Sue in Berlin resists genre to create a material sense of constant motion and morphing identities, heightening our attentions and sensitivities as readers to that of listeners: to the chorus that emerges—ruptures, rather—as text, as process, as narrative insistently folding back into itself.

"The realism of Harryman's work lies not in a normative reenactment of past events but rather in its existence as a thought experiment through which the past and its connection to the present moment are reconfigured. It is characterized by the ability to hold contradictions in interplay and by a willingness to see the overlay of conflicting realities."

–Heidi Bean

"It is an absolute delight to read Sue in Berlin, the text hovers magically between the poetic line and narrative continuation, opening all sorts of doors in the process. If there is an in-between in new writing by women—this is it!"

–Gail Scott

"What Sue in Berlin puts to the fore: The paramount importance of theater or some aspects of theater within poetry—within any poem. Harryman's poetry is theater, at once."

–Chrisophe Lamiot Enos