Winner of the National Poetry Series
Rodrigo Toscano’s Collapsible Poetics Theater is a genre-expanding force to be reckoned with. From polyvocalic pieces for multiple readers to “body-movement poems” to “simultaneous activities pieces” to anti-masques and plays, these fourteen texts & scores constitute one of the most sustained studies of poetic thinking and action to come in a long time. The question Toscano poses is “can the poem be tested any further?”
“Part carnivalesque rap, part sleight-of-hand shuffle, Collapsible Poetics Theater maneuvers its way through public language of several sorts to give theater a Realpolitik poetic voice. From ‘BALM TO BILK,’ wordplay doubles as subversive text in virtue of its voicing passed through from player to player. The poetry, built of linguistic slippage, occurs all the more readily for the bilingual speaker or the ex-patriot, whose frames of reference are plural and yet destabilized.
“With a cape, confetti and placard, two players and Master of Ceremonies conduct their feints and dodges about concepts of engagement and faith. Has this author been reading the critical social spatiality of Michel de Certeau? The author has certainly been reading poetics, from Mikhail Bahktin’s radical linguistics to the controlled clamor of Carla Harryman’s dramatic praxis. The art of play has found a talented proponent.”
—Marjorie Welish, 2008 National Poetry Series Judge