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The art of the poetry reading is something more than “performance,” authorial presence, or sheer demonstration of text. It is a compact between reader and listener that is continuously refreshed by words themselves. Words act as the relays between brain-to-brain and Brainhead. Brainhead can be thought of as a commons of social values resonating in the present moment. Asshead, is the ceaseless quivering of nervous energy that live bodies bring to a space. The trick lies in toggling the two heads by way of an overtly calibrated poetics. In this workshop we will explore ways to make poems more open to Brainhead while amping up Asshead by editing our own poems as well as others. The goal is to stimulate us into thinking about “writing poetry” as being subject to the larger problematic of the “poetry reading.”
Rodrigo Toscano’s newest book of poetry, Explosion Rocks Springfield, is just out from Fence Books. His previous books include, Deck of Deeds, Collapsible Poetics Theater (National Poetry Series selection), To Leveling Swerve, Platform, Partisans, and The Disparities. His poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Voices Without Borders, Diasporic Avant Gardes, Angels of the Americlypse, Imagined Theatres, In the Criminal’s Cabinet, Earth Bound, and Best American Poetry. Toscano has received a New York State Fellowship in Poetry He works for the Labor Institute in conjunction with the United Steelworkers and the National Institute for Environmental Health Science. Toscano lives in the Bayou Saint John Faubourg of New Orleans.