Form Free Form – Steve Benson, Carla Harryman, Jon Raskin Quartet & Konrad Steiner


Three collaborative works set language, music and film in immediate, improvised relations. Performing in various combinations, three short pieces will be presented: a structured improvisation for text and voice (Carla Harryman and Steve Benson); a free improvisation (Jon Raskin Quartet); and a scripted live film narration piece on two scenes featuring French actress Jeanne Moreau (Konrad Steiner and Carla Harryman). A larger ensemble piece will follow: “An Improvised Movie” with video, music and voice all in spontaneous interaction (Steven Benson, Konrad Steiner, and Raskin Quartet).

Steve Benson has presented work in poetry readings and improvisational poetry performance – solo and with collaborators – for over 33 years in the United States and Europe. Previous collaborators in live public performances have included writers Leslie Scalapino, Jackson Mac Low, Norman Fischer, Carla Harryman, Jean Day, Laura Moriarty, cris cheek, Allen Fisher, Stephen Rodefer, the Splatter Trio, and Jeff Friedman (choreographer). His work is represented online at PennSound,,,,, among other websites. His most recent books, documenting oral improvisation, process poetics, and written poems, are Blue Book from The Figures/Roof, Roaring Spring from Zasterle, and Open Clothes from Atelos. He is co-author, with nine other poets of the 1970s Bay Area Language Poetry community, of a ten-volume experimental autobiographical project, the final volume of which is now in preparation. Since 1996, he has worked as a clinical psychologist in private practice in a small town in Downeast Maine.

Carla Harryman is the author of fourteen books and numerous poets theater plays and texts for performance. Her recent books include Adorno’s Noise (Essay Press, 2008), Open Box (Belladonna, 2007), Baby (Adventures in Poetry, 2005), and Gardener of Stars (Atelos, 2001). Current performance works have emphasized polyvocal text, bilingualism, choral speaking voices, and music improvisation and have appeared in the United States, Canada, and Europe.  She is a co-author of The Grand Piano, a multi-authored serial work that locates its project in the San Francisco Bay Area writing scene between 1975-1980; a co-editor of Lust for Life: The Writings of Kathy Acker (Verso, 2006);  and the editor of a forthcoming special issue of The Journal of Narrative Theory focusing on non/narrative. A selection of readings and responses to her work is featured in the most recent issue of HOW/2. She serves on the faculty of the Department of English Language and Literature at Eastern Michigan University and on the MFA faculty of the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College.

Filmmaker and curator Konrad Steiner lives in San Francisco. His engagement with the writing community includes video collaborations with Leslie Scalapino (text from her book-length poem, “way”) and Mac McGinnes (with text by James Schuyler), performance collaborations with Carla Harryman and Stephanie Young, and performances in SF’s Poets Theater. He has produced and performed live film narration events in SF, Los Angeles, Buffalo, Portland (OR) and New York, as well as screened his own films in galleries, auditoriums, microcinemas and living rooms across the world. With Irina Leimbacher he coproduces the kino21 no-profit film and performance series in San Francisco.

Highlights of Rova founding member Jon Raskin‘s early career include his ’70s participation in new music ensembles directed by John Adams (San Francisco Conservatory of Music) and Dr. Barney Childs (University of Redlands). Before Rova, Raskin served as music director of the Tumbleweed Dance Company (1974-77), was a founding member of the Blue Dolphin Alternative Music Space and participated in the creation of the Farm- an art project that included a city farm, a community garden, Ecology Center, Dance and Theater companies and organized the creation of a city park. Highlights
as a member of Rova include composing a collaborative work for SF Taiko Dojo/Rova, working with Howard Martin on the installation work “Occupancy”, composing music for Mr. Bungle/ Rova, organizing the 30 year Anniversary mConcert of John Coltrane’s Ascension, performing the music of Miles Davis at the Fillmore with Yo Miles!, the Glass Head Project with Inkboat and the ongoing Electric Ascension Project.

Raskin has received numerous grants and commissions to work on a variety of creative projects: NEA composer grant for “Poison Hotel”, a theater production by Soon 3 (1988); Reader’s Digest/Meet the Composer (1992 & 2000); Berkeley Symphony commission (1995) and Headland Center for the Arts Residency 2009.

Besides over 30 recordings with Rova, Raskin’s recording experience include Anthony Braxton, Eight (+3) Tristano Compositions (1989), For Warne Marsh (1989) and The Bass & the Bird Pond with Tim Berne (1996), Wavelength Infinity- A Sun Ra Tribute, Between Spaces with Phillip Gelb, Dana Reason & Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley’s In C 25th Anniversary, and solo work on the Art Ship Series. His currents CD’s include Let’s go Juke Box Suite (Not Two) with the Rova Saxophone Quartet , JR Quartet (Rastascan) with Liz Allbee, George Cremaschi and Gino Robair, Music + One(Rastascan) a Improvisation compendium for improvisers to play along with and Kaolithic Music, Jaw Harp Music recorded in a 587 Gallon Vase(Evander Music). He is working on several new recordings, one with a JR Quartet for release in 2009, a Rova project of Graphic scores composed by Steve Adams and Jon Raskin, a compilation from the 2 + 2 series that Phillip Greenlief and Jon Raskin presented at the 21 Grand Performance Gallery in Oakland and a poetry and music project with Carla Harryman called “Open Box”.
Other groups are the Jon Raskin quartet featuring Liz Albee on trumpet John Shiurba on bass and Gino Robair, a duo with Kanoko Nishi on Koto and a trio with Matthew Goodheart and Vladimir Tarasov.

Jon Raskin QuartetJon Raskin, reeds and electronics; Liz Allbee, horns; John Shiurba, guitar; Ches Smith, drums and percussion.