Love and Words

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The Madness of Desire: Galeria Periferia, Yucatan Mexico January 7, 2010

Fernando de la Cruz

The performance The Madness of Desire, from the renowned American poet and multidisciplinary artist Cassandra Tribe, took place on January 7th of  2010 at La Periferia. The event was attended by locals as well as participants of the workshops of the Second Annual Poetry Festival of American Poets group in Mexico (USPiM), held in 

Merida, Yucatan, from the 2nd to the 9th  of that month at the Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatan (ESAY). The artist came as a member of the faculty, also composed by Anne Waldman, Mark Doty, Martin Espada, PedroSerrano, Pura Lopez Colome and Jose Vicente Anaya.  

The event, held in collaboration with Love and Words, USPiM and ESAY, began with a screening of the film The Demon of Providence (http://loveandwords.com/) which is itself a performance, with a moving soundtrack of original string music created by the artist herself. Subsequently, the poet sang her ghazal No. 1, honoring with her words and her voice this ancient form of Persian poetry, which she teaches and cultivates in her workshops. Afterwards, Tribe conducted her performance Philemon, in Spanish and English, and concluded with a reading of her poem The Dreams of Bees, part of her album, Angel (2008), in which Tribe recites her poems in the tradition of the Spoken Word. 

 In addition to the readings, songs, dialogues and actions, the walls of La Periferia showed sheets with poems, handwritten by Cassandra Tribe, in English and Spanish, taken from her book El Corazon Avaro (Mirastrar Press, 2009), in which she explores, in her words, "the idea of desire (by a person, by God, by life), which is where The Madness of Desire title comes from".

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The Madness of Desire: la Galeria Periferia, Yucatan Mexico January 7, 2010

David L. Araujo

When I first heard about her, I thought to myself that they were talking to me in plural. I had the opportunity to meet her, before her performance at La Periferia, at a workshop that went from a calm class about literary resources (inspired on Longinus' The Rules of the Sublime) to a conversation between two poets (one of them a beginner, for reasons of obligated modesty) that debated between lyric and narrative, finally reaching, as if creating a balance, the narrative poem. One that shatters every law, breaks all order, enriched with rage that makes you silent

Without being a frequent visitor, but a virtual follower of the diverse occurrences that go on there (which include a live pig, a women trapped in the ground, electronic chips and fragments, transforming spaces, etc.) I was pleased to find a sober Periferia, conservative, dressed in white, with the walls covered in brown paper. There was the art. The sheets of paper, divided in two, prayed each one of the verses that were to be recited, sung, devoured, lived. They were in their original version, and their Spanish translation.

Cassandra Tribe, New York born artist, waited for her public at the door, most of them American poets, inviting them to carefully read the texts that pulsated inside. After walking through the space, we settled in and sat on the floor, like at home, to meet The Demon of Providence, a video-poem that confronted us with the moral and tradition of mercy. To be a good person do we have to forgive the unforgivable?

Once the projection was over, a voice came out of the darkness. The second part of the performance gave life to Philemon and The Dreams of Bees. An elegant and lugubrious atmosphere surrounded the gallery. The artist, with chameleon-like tones, trained in vocal techniques, was armed only with a small journal. An androgynous shadow traced on the wall. The words, in whatever language they were (with her Argentinean translator, and her Spanish vocal coach) sutured wounds in listeners, some standing, sitting, nestled into corners, others with their hands covering their mouths, surprised at the power of the voices.

I don't know who it was that whispered naughtily, who screamed with might, who scratched souls, the person who sang, the person that afterwards thanked us humbly, the demon, the woman, the shadow. Today at home, as I type, to try and ease my mid, I've decided that the diversity in her art holds true to her last name. After the event, the crowd dissipated, leaving only a few to enjoy a couple of beers. The night at La Periferia came to an end; everyone took the words as an excuse, the lights when out, and through the dark space murmured an echo.

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"With the 'Demon' Tribe firmly establishes herself as a dramatic poet of note. Rare is the poet today who strives with each new creation to take the reader further and further into a wholly imagined world through sheer mastery of craft. It is a pleasure to watch Cassandra Tribe become." (The Versifier's Journal, Jan 2009)

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"Seamless and beautiful. Tribe is returning to poetry its life and connection to the world through the vehicle of drama and perfect, perfect execution." (Janice Freiburne)

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