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An SMU Poet Brings a New Form of Storytelling to Your Phone

D Magazine

January 2020

For Greg Brownderville, poetry teacher at SMU and editor of the lauded literary journal Southwest Review, making art means elevating the everyday, recontextualizing the routine. How might someone do that with the digital experience people have on their phones? Brownderville’s response: the “go-show,” a new way of storytelling on the small screen. With grants from SMU, he and a team of roughly 35 mainly Texas-based artists, including Bart Weiss, creator of Dallas VideoFest, will launch their first go-show in the days ahead.

The go-show is an app that delivers episodes via notifications over the course of several weeks. But unlike, say, podcasts, which use only audio to tell a story, the go-show uses short films, still images, songs, podcasts, text, and more. One day you might receive a notification for a video poem, the next, a short film.

“Different art forms are especially good at different things,” Brownderville says. “There’s a certain kind of storytelling you might prefer to do with a film. There’s another storytelling, let’s say something that really delves into interiority of a character, that might best be handled by text.”

Brownderville’s first go-show is called Fire Bones, a fictionalized autobiography in which he and Weiss play themselves and embark on a made-up adventure to the Arkansas Delta, where Brownderville grew up. The two explore the mysterious disappearance of a Lebanese-American crop duster who moonlights as a Pentecostal preacher. It’s a humorous tale about friendship and art making.

Along with the go-show, Brownderville has written a Fire Bonesscore that will be available on vinyl and a collection of poems, each written in the voice of a Fire Bones character.

“Up until this point in my career, apart from music making, I’ve mainly been the person sitting alone in a room dreaming up poems,” Brownderville says. But Fire Bones has changed the way he thinks. “I don’t know that I’m going to be going back anytime soon to just thinking of my projects as a solitary undertaking. I can make things with a team that I just can’t make on my own.” READ MORE