On Thursday night I escaped briefly to go see Edwin Torres at the Bowery Poetry Club.
Edwin is one of my husband and my (mine) favorite poets. The thing we adore about Edwin is his flexibility within the world of language. Edwin's work defies definition in a genre in which people are so eager to label. He writes a radio play, a narrative-ish poem, a lyric, a slam poem, a nonsense poem - and does it all famously. I have always been skeptical of poets/artists who move into different directions. How can a someone be good at something if they don't obsessively stick with that one thing? Torres defies this skepticism - he is interesting. Period.
What I also like about Edwin is his nonchalant attitude and humbleness about his talent. This is a quality I find in of my many poet-friends. I can not say how much I respect this attitude, in a land of high, high egos. I have always found it difficult to balance the ideas of immense talent, self-promotion, and humility (or just plain niceness) as an artist. Torres and some others (Durand, Coultras, Berrigan, Benka to name a few) have suceeded in this.
On Thursday, Torres led a smaall group of us in what he described as
I HEAR THINGS: Part One
A Poets' Symphony with you, the audience, conducted under
the baton of Maestro Edwin Torres. One classic/one
contemporary poem per night.
Torres admittly didn't event the idea, but chose to play around with it. It involved the audience reading three poems together. As we all have different voices, we all moved at different speeds. Torres had us "substain" notes and repeat segments - while the ohters did different vocals with the poem. The difference between Torres performance and others is that his was not rehearsed, rather with the audience cold from off the street. The results were beautiful.