Thursday, March 10, 2011

Polipoesía and the Ph.D.

What exactly is polipoesía*, you ask?

Literally translated, it means "many poems," which suggests to me two things: 1) the many interpretations we can make about a single poem/performance of a poem and 2) the many different varieties of poetry---or more rightly: poetries---as performed. Spanish sound, visual & text, and performance poet Eduard Escoffet defines the term this way:
Polipoesía is nothing more than a term used to encapsulate poetic expression that goes beyond text or book form to utilize all possible media, from sound to performance, via body language or technological elements. What's most important is that, given its nature, it requires an audience. (ref)
So the transcultural polipoétic movement---or performance poetry movement, if you prefer the less romantic term---essentially tries to return poetry to its oral origins. Think Homer's orally composed and performed epics, medieval French troubadours, West African griots. And while we'll never be able to fully return to those origins, embedded as modern cultures are in writing and print, new media technologies offer access to and the ability to share widely what Walter Ong calls "secondary orality": an orality that exists in sound and verbal/embodied performance but that can't be separated from writing or print. This is the orality engaged and explored by many contemporary poets whose work is written for the stage. And this is the orality upon which my dissertation research is focused.

Per yesterday's considerations and in an effort to be transparent with this research, to share its subjects and processes with a potentially broader audience, and to increase my chances of connecting with scholars and anyone else engaged in similar pursuits, I'll be posting my summaries of and reactions to the material listed on the flip-side of the links posted in the sidebar under "Polipoesía and the Ph.D." These posts will be titled like so: "Name, 'Title' [L1/L2/L3]," where L# refers to the exam list in which the item is referenced.

Here's to the pleasures of poetry in performance. And, y'know, to the study thereof.

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*I came across the term recently while perusing the work of Cornelia Gräbner, a scholar of culture who specializes (among other things) in the study of performance poetry (see this and this, for instance). I think the Spanish rolls nicely off the tongue.

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Image source: Voices Education Project