That hombre within walking distance
Jeez, a smorgasbord of borders to infiltrate! Right off the bat, poet's theater as a page infolded…yeah! A walk through the language-y to arrive at the poet-y, just to get tripped in territory…page, body, theater. Where do you keep that slippery melt of meaning when the poem hybrids into theater? Using the trappings of theater would seem to deflate the mysterious revelation that poetry lives in, whereas treating the emergence of the poem, the presentation of its next life on stage…with the same awe as the poem itself, the same blurred complexity, is where something approaching a poetic real can begin. I find the performative of a systemic theatricality, can easily overshadow the limbic flexibility of word. Removing person-hood from microscope, making invisible the channeler to let message through, to evoke a non-linear convention, gives the audience an experience without being told what to experience. Anti-theater for non-poets—how far away from the center to make a point...or you know, just to stand that way?
And then cheers for the extensive guide to the Latino presence at AWP…vaya jente…though I'm not included in that listing (I have 2 readings and a book signing). But here's a chance to look at non-territory. The argument of writing for the people you represent is an impossible identity that gets lost when the body you represent is the page. My territory, between territory, a sword to fall on. Always the uneasy grip when I find myself looking to belong somewhere and my own people can't find me. But who are my people? Who is that Invisible Man onstage? And more importantly, do I even want to be identified? What will that get me, this torque? Maybe I'm too white for the Latinos, too performance-y for the academics. I leave for the conference tomorrow, traveling to Montana afterwards for a visiting writer's mini-residency at a university…a 2-day workshop plus reading. And the joke about not joining a club who would have me as a member, is too easy. Until I realize, while traveling over the territories of all these postings, that it's not a club I'm part of, it's my family….all of you (sniff sniff).
Walking the edge of suave, I am total nerd. I like the word beautiful, but I don't have a twitter account. Don't need one for AWP, but I'll practice my handshake as I walk across the room. Sound as rejuvenation, is something I want to look at in my next few postings, the re-imagined space once the poem has left the ears.
One of the workshop exercises I used a few years ago dealt with interpretation and focus…and reminds me of Annie Finch's post about poetry walking. The students are on the floor holding a sheet of construction paper over their face, a small hole cut out where they can see through one eye, and a crayon in the other hand which is writing or drawing on the floor, what they think is happening when a body passes their narrowed field of vision. The exercise develops, form and line become words, the student memorizes how they fall on the page, to then try and walk the room in that same shape. Walking the poem, they physically embody its spirit. One of the professors in the class told me afterwards about Korean monks who would walk inside their talkings similar to walking meditations. I wonder if tracing out your poem as you walk through your day, would create a connection to earth's revolution, or perhaps feed your personal cycle with a kinetic interlacing pattern of feet previously traveled. The ecology of migration and how transient territory becomes as you pass its involution. How language and body claim space on the same frame.
As we lose our isolation, redefined as iProgress, social skills reinterpret society. The remembering of walking, to muscle before brain, is a way for an invigorating re-purposing of skill sets. The corner walk and back, replaced by the quick Google search, is a way of flexing old pores that are just now being born. Territory continually evolved by border, theater as identity, forgetting body as sheet of paper, last breath as poem.
A self-proclaimed “lingualisualist” rooted in the languages of sight and sound, Edwin Torres was born in the Bronx and is a longtime resident of New York City. He is a poet whose highly acclaimed performances and live shows combine vocal and physical improvisation and theater. He is the author of...