Cecilia Stelzer’s 10/16 BathHouse Reading Introduction for Edwin Torres

Edwin Torres is a poet, but not only a poet of the written page; his poetry expands across the senses—it is a tool of connection between language, the body, the self, and others. He is a self-described “lingualisualist.” Torres’s poetry is physical, aural, verbal, and visual. I can say all of this is true even though I have yet to personally see him perform, instead I have experienced the emersion of his poetry through his work in published books and in online readings and performances. Some of his pieces are solo performances and others are collaborations between other artists, such as dancers and musicians in his piece “We Are Walls Talking” or filmmakers in his piece for Visible Poetry Project titled “Aurora’s Aura,” but all of Torres’s work creates a space for the senses, both of the performer and audience, the dividing line between which is also being deconstructed. In his Tedx reading Torres says, “How do we align our natural trilingual voice: our speaking, seeing, hearing voice into a lateral extension of the ground we claim: the audience, the body, the room, the core community of one. Because we are here together, we are the journey.” Torres aligns this natural trilingual voice. He connected with my senses on the other side of the page and screen, and now we will all be able to experience this emersion, this community, in person.

Edwin Torres is the author of In the Function of External Circumstances released by Nightboat Books in 2010, Yes Thing No Thing released by Roof Books in 2011, Ameriscopia released by University of Arizona Press in 2014, among many others. Torres is also the editor of a forthcoming anthology titled Out Of Each Other: An Anthology of the Body in Language which will be released by Counterpath Press in 2019. His most recent publication Xoeteox: The Infinite Word Object, was released last week by Wave Books. It is a complex, experimental composition—some sections look like they were made on a glitching printer or taken from a textbook on quantum mechanics. Some pieces read like fables that are constantly changing, dream-like, into other fables. Other pieces read like abecedariums, outlines, or lists that have been cut and collaged out of order—or, more accurately, into a new order.  In his piece “The Collagist at the Edge” Torres writes,

“a journey, made familiar

by these sheets of grey and black markings

on white noise—right here

in my hands

an act of understanding—a contract

between you and me

a skin of cognition—a container

holding us together”

Through the body of the poem, Torres has created a journey, an experience of the senses.

Edwin Torres’s work has been widely exhibited and anthologized, including a retrospective at the Center for Book and Paper Arts in Chicago, along with work published in the anthologies Postmodern American Poetry and Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café. Torres has performed and given workshops nationally and internationally, including his creativity workshop “Brainlingo: Writing the Voice of the Body.” He has had fellowships at The New York Foundation for the Arts, The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art, The DIA Arts Foundation, The University of Pennsylvania, and most recently an Artist’s Choice Residence at The Institute for Contemporary Art in Richmond, VA. Poet and performer Rodrigo Toscano calls Torres a “one-man poetic theater phenomenon.” Please join me in welcoming Edwin Torres.