SUMMER EVENING at London's Institute Of
Contemporary Arts. On stage Kathy Acker
is reading her work over a musical
backdrop provided by various members and
cohorts of Psychic TV.
audience is not large but curious.
Mindful of the startling prose of this
New York writer they semi-anticipate a
Vicious American Female ready to snap the
heads off the front rows (if anyone had
dared to form a front row!)
But the small figure with
the closely cropped hair and the metal
adornment hanging from her ear has a
surprisingly delicate voice and speaks
with a quiet yet forceful intensity. Her
fingers tremble as they grip her sheets
of words. After some twenty minutes she
turns her last page and leaves the stage.
The music fades with her.
Blood And Guts In
Highschool, Kathy Acker's best known
work, is iconoclastic, highly (and
brutally) sexual, heavily and
deliberately plagiaristic. It emits an
eerie contemporary resonance ('teach me a
new language damn it, a language that
means something to me') and devours
established literary forms with a
While that piece in
particular would appear to link Acker
inextricably to the bleak landscape of
Lower Manhattan, it transpires that she
now "half lives" in London's
Hammersmith in a flat close to the
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