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  • Writer's pictureTristan Koepke

Thoughts from Beverly, Beverly, Beverly

Beverly, Beverly, Beverly was first shared in an informal virtual showing at the University of Maryland's School of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies on December 7, 2020.

My grandmother Beverly, who I've always called Nain (Welsh for grandma), has lived a very full life, and recently I began recording Zoom conversations with her about her past. There is so much to know, and no matter how many questions I ask, I can never know the full extent of her, or my family's, history. I began a process of reiteration and multiplicity as a means to craft new experiences of this oral history. The product, Beverly, Beverly, Beverly, became a somatic collage of this family history, rich homages to the past, unsettled queer orientation, and the epigenetic legacies of labor and trauma.

My memories, her memories, layered, infiltrated, juxtaposed. Can my body hold it all?


I’m thinking about trauma, and how I’m not interested in exploiting trauma for the sake of art. But I’m also thinking about the fact of the traumatic instant. Moments linger. They live. Their fingers reach deep into the mud, turning warm earth to tar. My toes on hot tar in the summer, tracing the cracks in the parking lot, trying not to get tagged. Hot, hot wood chips. The logic of retrospective confabulation. A moment too late.

You’re it. I’m still still still not bigger than a breadbox. I’m still still still not sure my memory can be trusted. I don’t want to miss a thing. Perpetually noticing what should have been obvious.

I never got to ask Marjorie everything, but I can start with Beverly. Beverly, who lived with Barbara, who lived with Florence. Florence. She never got the tell-all either. Barbara at the very least had her poetry, embracing the spirit of autumn and so on. Go now, go on, go on.

I don't remember. No I don't remember anything about his ever being around. I don't remember anything I remember people talking about him and but I..I…I don't remember, and I don't recall ever seeing him. Well, you know, I probably could have asked more, but I just never, you know I never thought Mother wanted to have any conversation about it, and if if if we ever asked anything she kind of put it off and I always felt that it wouldn't be fair to mother to you know ask a lot of questions so I just never did I don't right at the moment I can't even think I have a file folder of things that that I don't know Barbara always knew more than I did in her life just just that's the way it was and where mother ever met him I don't know I often think I should have asked her more about that that that trip out there I just I think about driving a car across the desert across the mountains to go you know when you think about it the way cars were those days they were hardly a car.


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