During 2018, students from the Wichita State University dance department responded to artists from the community in a collaborative exchange. In the clip below, students of Cheyla Clawson-Chandler choreographed duets in response to April Pameticky’s Anatomy of a Sea Star. Students discussed the poem with Pameticky, created the duets under strict choreographic boundaries [ex: dancers had to be in contact 80% of the time], and then teach that choreography to their dance partners.
In the Fall of 2019, students again collaborated with the poet to create a unique audience experience.
The first three sections are shared here:
Anatomy of a Sea Star
A Love Song
On the nature of the ubiquitous sea star: a defense mechanism against predators, these creatures can regenerate limbs. Near the turn of the twentieth century, angry oysterman, fed up at sea stars eating their catch, cut the sea stars in half, tossing the bodies back overboard. Ultimately, the sea star population doubled in less than a decade, decimating the oysters in the process.1
Covered in tiny white spines, members of the phylum echinodermata can excrete their stomach out of their mouths, oozing into partially open clams, digesting the interior, and finally returning to their bodies.2
1 From National Ocean Service, NOAA
2 From National Geographic Online
Two minutes from now he will tell you again about his day.
The words feel familiar, taste like sediment,
but he can’t be sure if it was you the first time through,
you that laughed about that mishap during his meeting,
you that mirrored his frown at all his frustrations,
you that he made love to against the hollow office door.
Three minutes from now,
you will nod and release a braying laugh,
the sound spilling like milk between you.
Making excuses and backing away,
you slide into shadow.
The first time he spoke to you,
you can’t remember it,
pretend it happened at the Connestoga truck stop off of 1-35,
create whole fictions from scraps of memory.
Maybe you talked poetry,
the endless burnt coffee,
smoking your way through so many great ideas.
This will not be the last thing you lie over.
You offer a small morsel from your own plate,
the steak meat succulent red,
watch his mouth tighten, close.
His head tilts away
as he explains the he doesn’t eat from another’s plate,
though he will eat at your flesh later.
You feel he has hacked a limb,
tossed you back
into the sea,