Paperback | Aug 2023 | Giramondo Publishing | 9781922725769 | 160pp | 210x148mm | GEN | AUD$29.95, NZD$34.99
A chronicle of the early days of performance poetry, presented as a road trip in verse by one of its greatest practitioners.
This book-length verse narrative is about a so-called ‘Dirty T-Shirt Tour’, on which a group of Australian poets travel to cities in the United States and Canada in the mid-1980s, to give readings. It is composed as a diary, written from the point of view of one of the poets, who finds himself at odds with the others by virtue of his migrant background, and his commitment to ‘performance’ poetry. It is his first visit to America, which he views with both wonder and alarm. Isolated in the group by his commitment to a poetics of ‘utterance’, he finds friendship and acclamation in his audiences and the people he encounters on the street. The tensions portrayed extend beyond the group to encompass issues of racism, sexism and class, as the book offers snapshots of American society, as viewed by the outsider, which are in themselves an expression of his performance poetic. The Tour stands as a chronicle of the difficulties and triumphs of performance poetry, of which Pi.O. was one of the pioneers, long before it became the popular form it is today.
'π.ο. follows no form but his own, a text for spoken performance punctuated by pop-up commas and slashes that pause or jolt...[his] anarchist aesthetic locates the scurrying phrase, the overlooked figures, the extraneous observation in epic scale as Joyce, in modernist commandment, had displayed throughout Ulysses.' — Gig Ryan, Sydney Review of Books