BathHouse Review – Daniel Borzutzky and Amy Sara Carroll

Author: Alasin Maynard

Within the Student Center Auditorium, we had interesting performances by Daniel Borzutzky and Amy Sara Carrol. I read Borzutzky’s book, The Performance of Becoming Human, and hearing the poems out loud was a lot different than reading it. When he was reading “The Private World,” there were times when his tone became softer making the language more haunting bring the darkness in the poem. Hearing this tone of language about the immigrants in the truck made it more haunting. The spoken language made it more personal, and if felt like you were experience the events. When Borzutzky read the line, “It wants to melt your body to bleach your body…” it gave the feeling it was addressed to you. It gave the quality that it was your body that it wanted to melt. The experience was more personal and real with the language being spoken. Borzutzky shows the texture of the language with reading the roughness and softness of it. You could hear the language illustrating the events that were described. For example, the Cs and Ks sounds of a poem from the collection Country of Planks illustrated the harshness of the Chile prisons.

Amy Sara Carrol’s performance included both reading poems and showing images from her books. In one section called Session, images with words in different patterns, or pictures with words inscribed on people were shown. In a few of the poems, letters of the alphabet were the center of the poems. For instance, in one poem the letter S is represented with its sound, and the image displayed the S nature of it. Hearing the s sound made the language sound like a tongue twister and hard to speak. There were a lot of familiar sayings within in these poems that shaped some of tongue twisting in it, and it defamiliarized them. The image that was shown emphasized the sound of the poem. The performance showed the hearing and visual impact language has.

A lot of the pictures showed language in different formats. There were a few images that showed some crossed out lines on a paper. The crossed out lines made it looked like they were mistakes that were supposed to be crossed out. There was a picture of struggling to put it into words. When Carrol read one these poems, there was emotion that matched the pain and struggle of the image. We could hear the pain and struggle when it talked about race and gender mixed with dark humor. The Spanish in the poems crossed two language cultures showing the dual identity that immigrants have to faced when they crossed the border. The images and the spoken language of these poems gives us the sound and visual impact language can have.

The Codeswitch poems were very interesting with giving survival instructions in the form of poems. Something that was meant to feed the physical body and the spiritual body for immigrants. Interesting on how both the images and the poetry served a dual for the immigrants with feeding the physical bodies as well as the spiritual body. It was a new spin on giving instructions, and it highlights the challenges that immigrants had faced with coming to the United States.

The performances by Borzutzky and Carol portrayed immigration, privatization, identity crisis, and the ownership of the body in a different light that made you think. The styles of the performance were able to translate uncomfortable subjects into a language that expressed it. The language from these performances made you uncomfortable, but it made you think how about putting difficult topics into language. They were good performances that showed you different ways language could be expressed.