Showing posts with label Guillermo Filice Castro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guillermo Filice Castro. Show all posts

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Friday, October 18, 2002

Short Fuse is an extraordinarily ambitious project. In addition to the 400 page book released this week by Rattapallax Press is a CD and a supplementary e-book that one can download with a password found in the hard copy. Edited by a Philip Norton, a performance poet now in Australia who was matriculating at DePaul University when Marc Smith's Green Mill poetry slam events in Chicago  kicked off the slam scene in 1987, and Todd Swift, a Canadian poet with intermedia impulses now in Paris who makes a living as a television screenwriter, the 175 poets gathered into Short Fuse represent an attempt on the part of its editors to jump start what they characterize as Fusion Poetry.

What is Fusion Poetry? Given that at least 130 of the 175 poets in Short Fuse come out of the spoken word / slam / performance poetry communities of different English speaking countries, plus a smattering of poets from diverse traditions -- Simon Armitage and Glyn Maxwell represent the most conservative tendencies of British neoformalism, Charles Bernstein & myself represent a  performative side of langpo, and even Billy Collins is on the CD to incorporate that side of the plain-speaking McPoem tradition that can be enjoyed as  stand-up comedy  -- it would seem to be an attempt to place oral poetries into a broader & perhaps more legitimated context. At its most grandiose, Short Fuse may be an attempt to overcome the various skirmishes in the poetry wars by proposing performativity  as the glue that would bring all these other aesthetics together into one world-wide happy family. The book even promises to donate "a portion of the proceeds" to UNICEF.

Time will tell how far the editors can take that agenda, but it certainly doesn't want for lack of scale. What it may do, however, and this would be unfortunate, is to obscure just what a wonderfully global collection of performance poetry the editors have put together. Canada, the U.S., the British Isles, Australia, and the Anglophone scenes of several other countries are all represented. From the U.S., you have a good representation of the slam scene: Patricia Smith, Bob Holman, Edwin Torres & some of the more stellar poets who came out of the Nuyorican Poetry Cafe scene, such as Willie Perdomo and Guillermo Castro. While there certainly are some glaring omissions, especially among the older, more established performance poets (Steve McCaffery & his fellow Four Horsemen, Hazel Smith, the late Bob Cobbing, anything with a taste of Fluxus*), Short Fuse can be read as an Olympian panorama of performance poetics, one that stands up on these terms quite well, with a curious sprinkling of "performance-like" poetries out of other more page-based traditions.

* There are moments when, reading Short Fuse and listening to its editors, one has the eerie sense that this what it might be like to want to be Jerome Rothenberg if one had never heard of Jerome Rothenberg.