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Beyond the Page

Poetry and Performance in Spanish America

Jill S. Kuhnheim

Publication Year: 2014

Poetry began as a spoken art and remains one to this day, but readers tend to view the poem on the page as an impenetrable artifact. This book examines the performance of poetry to show how far beyond the page it can travel. Exploring a range of performances from early twentieth-century recitations to twenty-first-century film, CDs, and Internet renditions, Beyond the Page offers analytic tools to chart poetry beyond printed texts.

Jill S. Kuhnheim, looking at poetry and performance in Spanish America over time, has organized the book to begin with the early twentieth century and arrive at the present day. She includes noteworthy poets and artists such as José Martí, Luis Palés Matos, Eusebia Cosme, Nicomedes Santa Cruz, Pablo Neruda, César Vallejo, and Nicolás Guillén, as well as very recent artists whose performance work is not as well known. Offering fresh historical material and analysis, the author illuminates the relationship between popular and elite cultural activity in Spanish America and reshapes our awareness of the cultural work poetry has done in the past and may do in the future, particularly given the wide array of technological possibilities. The author takes a broad view of American cultural production and creates a dialogue with events and criticism from the United States as well as from Spanish American traditions.

Oral and written elements in poetry are complementary, says Kuhnheim, not in opposition, and they may reach different audiences. As poetry enjoys a revival with modern media, performance is part of the new platform it spans, widening the kind of audience and expanding potential meanings.

Beyond the Page will appeal to readers with an interest in poetry and performance, and in how poetry circulates beyond the page. With an international perspective and dynamic synthesis, the book offers an innovative methodology and theoretical model for humanists beyond the immediate field, reaching out to readers interested in the intersection between poetry and identity or the juncture of popular-elite and oral-written cultures.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-2

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Introduction: A Renovating Return to Roots

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pp. 3-16

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, poetry enjoyed a revival through its oral presentation in slams and festivals, its circulation on the Internet, and its availability on CDs. Combining poetry with performance is one of the important ways in which the genre transforms, evolves, and gains diverse audiences in different transnational social and cultural settings. Electronic and multimedia presentations move poetry beyond the...

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1. Recitation and Declamation: Public Readings of Shifting Authority and Modernity

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pp. 17-46

In the opening stanza of this poem honoring Cuban declaimer Dalia Iñíguez’s performance in Costa Rica, the speaker wonders what Rubén Darío would think about his poem as voiced by this “embajadora de la poesía” [ambassador of poetry], as she is called by another reviewer in the same issue. The question calls our attention to the idea that the act of reading or...

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2. Performing Racial, Gendered, and Transnational Identities in Poetry in the 1930s– 1960s

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pp. 47-78

Berta Singerman (1903– 1998), the best- known declamadora in the early twentieth century, actively sought new audiences for poetry. In her memoir, Mis dos vidas, she describes her quest in a language of liberation that recalls Bolívar and other figures who struggled for independence:...

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3. Performing Poetry Beyond the Avant-Garde

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pp. 79-108

Early in the twentieth century the Italian futurist Filippo Marinetti decreed an end to traditional poetic declamation. In his 1916 proclamation, “Dynamic, Multi Channeled Recitation,” he announced how the futurists are “renewing and quickening the spirit of our race, making it more manly” (193). With aggressive terminology, he planned to liberate “intellectuals from the age-old, static, pacifist, and nostalgic type of recitation...

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4. Aesthetic Experiment and Political Commitment: Promulgating Poetry in Streets, Cafés, on CDs, and on the Internet

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pp. 109-137

In the last two chapters we saw the continuing influence of avant-garde activities that proposed different conceptualizations of the relationships between art and society as an undercurrent in poetry performances of the midcentury until very recently. In chapter 2 changing roles for poetry relative to avant-garde goals manifested themselves in the tension we observed between Nicomedes Santa Cruz’s commercial success and the ideals of...

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Conclusion: Voice and the Public Space of Poetry

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pp. 138-144

I began this study suggesting that the oral and written elements in poetry form a continuum that has been obscured by our preoccupation with reading poetry on the printed page. Rather than maintain the separation between these two realms, I have sought to re unite them by examining how written works are spoken or put into action through a variety of media and in a range of settings. George Quasha seconds the idea of bringing...

Appendix: “TwoMilMex”

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pp. 145-148


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pp. 149-156


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pp. 157-168


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pp. 169-174

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9780816598960
E-ISBN-10: 0816598967
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816530809
Print-ISBN-10: 0816530807

Page Count: 183
Publication Year: 2014