“Being Language” BathHouse Review – Daniel Borzutzky and Amy Sara Carroll

Author: Krysta Blankenship

Daniel Borzutzky and Amy Sara Carroll’s works intertwine in a way that allows them to support each other, and this was especially apparent in the BathHouse Readings on September 27th and 28th in the Student Center Auditorium. On the first day, Borzutzky read a few pieces from his work, The Performance of Becoming Human. When he read, “Lake Michigan Merges into the Bay of Valparaiso, Chile, ” my perception of the work shifted. Actually hearing him say the words the way they were intended to be said allowed the musicality to flow through the piece. It was clear each word was specifically chosen to work apart of something larger than itself. His words haunted the listener and lingered in the air.

These ideas mixed with Amy Sara Carroll’s visuals allowed for reflection. Her linoleum block printing pieces invoked a visual response from viewers. She also read from her work, Fannie and Freddie. This work forces the reader to question its motives and reflect upon its meaning. Carroll states how it, “actively resists being read.” Finally, she showed an app created called Codeswitch: The Transborder Immigration Tool. This app uses poetry to not only aid the soul but the body as well. It can be downloaded to any phone, and it helps a person navigating across the U.S. Mexican boarder find water. The work features many poems that give tips for survival. This aid not only helps the physical being, but the mental as well. The prose allows for an escape from reality.

On the second day, Borzutsky and Carroll gave a talk titled BOR/DER/I/ZA/TION. Both authors used their work to show what borderization means to them. One captivating piece shared featured Borzutsky reading his work over an episode of Speedy Gonzales. The way he paired the words with the visual allowed the listener to personally connect in a way that would not have been possible without the visual. He also used many modern movies to aid his lecture. This shifted my perspective of how borderization works in modern day life.

The BathHouse allowed me to gain a new perspective within my own writing. I see how sounds of specific words can work to create a new meaning. It seems as if these two authors came together to create new ideas within the idea of hybridity. Though their works do differ, they work well together.

Overall, the creative writing program at Eastern has given me a safe place to nourish and stimulate my writing. It has shown concepts that have pushed me to discover more about myself as a writer. It especially allows language to lead. We are not creating language, but rather language is working through us to create something new.

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.

BathHouse Review – Daniel Borzutzky and Amy Sara Carroll

Author: Alex Johnston

Daniel Borzutzky dove head first into his readings on Tuesday September 28th at Eastern Michigan University, leading with a powerful piece full of nauseating imagery. “They beat us, they loved us, they paid us”. You could feel the confusion of the imprisoned not only through the content but through Daniel’s voice and inflection. The repetition was more powerful in the auditorium as opposed to reading it off the page, each line beginning with “at times” forcing you to hear the sheer mass of atrocities the prisoners faced. When he began to read this piece I immediately thought that this was a piece made to be performed, specifically for Daniel Borzutzky to perform.

When he moved on to “The Country of Planks” David’s ability to make you imagine was again evident. Lines like “…Lied one to the other like sawed up mountains” being both unique in itself and relatable to landscape of Chile. He again used repetition in his poetry and mixed that in with long winded drawn out lines that I remembered from my own reading as long run on sentences. “The Private world” was his next piece, and it pulls you in right from the start with “ The police shoved a gassed up rag into his mouth and set it on fire”. Each story was able to pull you in from the beginning, and this one was no different.

Amy Sarah Carrol came on next and the juxtaposition in tone between the two was immediately evident. This was going to be a lighter, yet not necessarily less powerful reading. Her ability to introduce humor into her poetry was never more evident than when she introduced her piece entitled “Fuck Up” in her series of art. Many of her work seemed to be less structured and more experimental compared to Daniel Borzutzky, yet none less impressive.

Amy’s work was also often more powerful in the auditorium, such as her piece “S sounding words” where there is somewhat soothing almost hypnotic effect as she seems to jam as many “S words” as she can into one piece. Conversely much of her work was better to be viewed, such as her series of “Block’s” pieces. These pieces were very “Visual, material, and conceptual” as she put it, and were much better suited to be viewed.

Both readings were very impressive and I am thankful for David and Amy for making the trip to Eastern Michigan University to read their work for us. Both of these writers/artists are very talented and I will continue to look into their work.

BathHouse Review: Daniel Borzutsky and Amy Sara Carroll

Author: Sam McClure

On September 28th, I attended a discussion panel with poets Daniel Borzutzky and Amy Sara Carroll. The theme of both of their presentations was Bor/der/i/za/tion.

Daniel Borzutsky began his presentation by reading poetry while a Speedy Gonzales short played on the screen. The short featured the titular cartoon mouse attempting to steal cheese from across the border, and Borzutsky expanded on that allegory with his poetry. There was a stark contrast between the comedic antics of the short and Borzutsky’s aggressive political commentary. Sometimes the poet commented on what was happening to the characters on screen, while other times the images and the poetry seemed to be wildly dissimilar. It was an interesting experience that would have only been possible in a live setting.

Borzutsky then showed the audience a variety of YouTube videos featuring representations of illegal immigrants. Some were quiet offensive, like Genesis’s “Illegal Alien”, but others, like a clip from Born in East L.A., represented immigrants much more fairly. His critique of the media’s portrayal of immigrants provided me with context for his book, The Performance of Becoming Human.

After Daniel Borzutsky’s presentation, Amy Sara Carrol took the stage. She read some of her poems from her collection Fannie/Freddy. I hadn’t encountered Carroll’s work before her presentation, but her delivery was very impressive. She also showed a clip of a documentary about an app that aids illegal immigrants crossing the border. Not only does it give the user survival tips, it also contains relevant poetry. I thought the app was an interesting combination of art and technology, and the documentarians did a good job of explaining the functions of the program in a clear and concise manner.

My favorite part of the presentation was the question and answer session, where students asked the poets to respond to the racist vandalism on campus. One man was very inspired by Amy Carroll’s use of poetry for activism. This led to a discussion on the effectiveness of activism against those using hate speech to gain attention for a cause. If the whole school comes together to protest an offensive, yet relatively minor crime, does that prove our strength by showing racists that we will take a stand against any level of hate-speech? Or, are we giving the vandal more power by showing them that they can create outrage with a single can of spray-paint? It’s a dilemma without an easy solution, but I’m glad that the student body is thinking about it.

Needless to say, there was a lot to think about at this BathHouse event!

BathHouse Reading Series – Daniel Borzutzky and Amy Sara Carroll



READING: September 27, 2016 at 4:30 pm

“BOR/DER/I/ZA/TION” (Conversation): September 28, 2016 at 2 pm



Daniel Borzutzky


Daniel Borzutzky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, of Chilean heritage. He has published books and chapbooks including The Performance of Becoming Human (2016), In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (2015), Bedtime Stories for the End of the World! (2015), Data Bodies (2013), The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011), and The Ecstasy of Capitulation (2007). His work is witty and satirizes contemporary culture and political figures. Borzutzky has translated Raúl Zurita’s, The Country of Planks (2015) and Song for his Disappeared Love (2010), and Jaime Luis Huenún’s Port Trakl (2008).

“Memories of My Overdevelopment”

BathHouse Readings are sponsored by the College of Arts and Science and the Department of English Language and Literature



READING: September 27, 2016 at 4:30 pm

“BOR/DER/I/ZA/TION” (Conversation): September 28, 2016 at 2 pm



Amy Sara Carroll


Amy Sara Carroll is the author of two collections of poetry SECESSION (Hyperbole Books, an imprint of San Diego State University Press, 2012) and FANNIE + FREDDIE/The Sentimentality of Post-9/11 Pornography (Fordham University Press, 2013) and one book of criticism REMEX: Toward an Art History of the NAFTA Era (The University of Texas Press, forthcoming). Since 2008, she also has been a member of the collective Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab, coproducing the Transborder Immigrant Tool, which was included in the 2010 California Biennial and Political Equator 3.

“Family Portrait” and “Pipe Dream”
“The Epic of American Civilization”

“Code as Ritualized Poetry: The Tactics of the Transborder Immigrant Tool”


BathHouse Readings are sponsored by the College of Arts and Science and the Department of English Language and Literature

Upcoming Rodrigo Toscano Events

toscano eventsRodrigo Toscano’s newest book of poetry, Explosion Rocks Springfield, is due out from Fence Books in the spring. His previous books include Deck of Deeds, Collapsible Poetics Theater, To Leveling Swerve, Platform, Partisans, andThe Disparities.  His poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Voices Without Borders, Diasporic Avant-Gardes, Imagined Theatres, In the Criminal’s Cabinet, Earth Bound, and Best American Poetry. Toscano has received a New York State Fellowship in Poetry and was a National Poetry Series selection. He works for the Labor Institute in conjunction with the United Steelworkers and the National Institute for Environmental Health Science. While in the Greenpoint township of Brooklyn (16 years), Toscano ran and wrote articles and interviews for the North Brooklyn Runners. He now lives in the Faubourg Marigny (seventh ward) of New Orleans. 

The Cave Lecture by Clayton Eshleman

Tuesday February 16, 6:30pm
Halle Library Auditorium

Poet and emeritus of EMU’s English Department Clayton Eshleman will talk about his exploration of the Ice Age caves in Southern France, among them Lascaux. His lecture will include slides of cave art and poems he wrote in response.

Work by Jan 20 & 21 BathHouse Readers

Kevin Killian:

Works @ Open Space

Works @ Electronic Poetry Center

New Narrative writer and poet Kevin Killian showcases work


Wayne Koestenbaum:

Wayne Koestenbaum: The TNB Self-Interview

Vital Signs

The Visceral Visual Art of Writer Wayne Koestenbaum


In Conversation: WAYNE KOESTENBAUM with Phillip Griffith

Full BathHouse Winter 2016 Schedule

Be sure to mark your calendar for this semester’s BathHouse events!

Kevin Killian & Wayne Koestenbaum:

Jan 20, 3:30-5 pm – Poetry Reading
Jan 21, 6:30-8:30 pm – “Pink Trance” – Discussion

Teju Cole:

March 9, 7 pm – Reading

Claudia Rankine:

April 5, 5:30 pm – Reading

~ All events will take place in the Student Center Auditorium. ~