Feeling Brought inFlexing, Fluxus, Flexibility and Afrofuturist Seeing of Dick Higgins

Tracie Morris

the improbable, 09/17/22

Originally presented on December 4, 2018 at Poets House, New York City for the Passwords program honoring Dick Higgins and published in The Improbable, No. 1: Time Indefinite, Siglio, 2020. All rights reserved. © 2020 Tracie Morris. Reproduced with permission.


A. Characteristic critics Modern: 5 Concrete Riffs of Tradition
Mimetic: D’angelo
Pragmatic: Ella Fitzgerald, Mahalia Jackson, Babs Gonzales
Expressive: Billie Holiday, Macy Gray
Objective: Sammy Davis Jr., Paul Robeson, Stevie Wonder
Exemplicative: Erykah Badu, Wangechi Mutu, Glenn Ligon, John Akomfrah

B. Titular Notations in consideration of:
Hippies, Hipness, June jazzing, and Black culture
Stein strides, Langston and Higgins
Paik and the undeniable non-Whiteness of Being (Post-War de-Anglophonics)
Moorman and the female body eyeing areola of Higgins
Jay DeFeo’s flowering and Higgins
Kinda Blue Higgins
What you hear is not a test: The State of Black Existentialism, “Steal this Turntable” — and Dick Higgins
Don’t be a Dick Higgins: Black aspirationality, safe exceptionalism and afro-anti-avant-garde fear         with Dick Higgins
Cecil Taylor’s running commentary and multi-hyphenation side-eyeing Dick Higgins
Code-switching and Luba memory boards tangible ephemera preceding Dick Higgins
Notation, bata and the intangible changing same already told Dick Higgins
J.A. Rogers autodidactic truth and the alternative knowing winks at Dick Higgins
Dick Tracy’s watch, the non-status, panopticon stature mirrored Dick Higgins
You don’t know what it’s got ‘till it’s gone, Tracie Morris posthumous in(tra)duction to Dick Higgins


This list poem is based on a hybrid performance and talk I gave at Poets’ House in 2018 to celebrate the life of Dick Higgins and the publication of the seminal book on his importance by Siglio Press that year. I knew of Fluxus but didn’t know enough about Higgins’ work so I set out to learn a few things from the book. I am grateful for the space made by early and contemporary innovative artists and collectives. Although much of what I consider to be my innovations are rooted in African diaspora traditions, I feel that it is important to note that there are intersecting communities of experimental artists. We are perpetually in conversation with each other across, time, space, beingness, perspective and geography. I sought to engage a few of these masters in dialogue, poetry, and in gratitude, with my presentation in 2018 and this poetic excerpt.


about the author

Tracie Morris is the author/editor of 7 books. She is also a recording artist and voice teacher. Her installation and performance venues include Dia: Chelsea, The New Museum, The Kitchen Performance Space, The Drawing Center, The Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Whitney Biennial. She has been a fellow of Cave Canem, the CPCW Fellow of Creative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania, and the WPR fellow of Harvard University. Tracie holds an MFA in poetry from Hunter College, and PhD in Performance Studies from New York University. She has taught in higher education for over 20 years and is a Professor of Poetry at the Iowa Writers Workshop.

“Five Traditions” by Dick Higgins, reproduced in IIntermedia, Fluxus and the Something Else Press: Selected Writings by Dick Higgins, edited by Steve Clay and Ken Friedman

see also

✼ plaudit:

“How does a book’s static format capture the temporal, ever-changing nature of gesture, thought, music, all the motion that defines social history? By doing something very close to what I Will Keep My Soul accomplishes: breaking through the fourth wall of the page.”


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