Entrelineas: audio & performance art

Audio score for video performance art.


idea original: Nayla Altamirano cámara y edición: Moisés Regla arte sonoro: Logan Phillips vestuario: Gamaliel Islas performance: Oriana Jimenez y Nayla Altamirano asistente: Ary Ehrenberg agradecimientos: f4 libre / Marcos Rossi

México 2010

Pies Sobre La Urbe: audio / parkour / videoarte

Here is a short piece of videoarte done by my homeboy Carlos Altamirano in México, DF. I collaborated and did the audio for the piece, something I love to do and was happy to have been asked. Carlos did the piece as part of UNAM's ArteShock, which was a televised competition between artists in different categories, almost like a poetry slam for all kinds of different disciplines. And he won the videoarte category! Without further ado, Pies Sobre la Urbe:

Taller Leñateros en vivo


Taller Leñateros is a Mayan / mestizo arts collective from Chiapas, Mexico. I have one of their many fans since I first stumbled upon their workshop in San Cristóbal de las Casas in 2003 and held in my hands their book "Conjuros y Ebriedades" (cover at left). It's an amazing thing, a collection of Mayan poems and cantos, the first of its kind in maybe 400 years. The Leñateros make their own paper from corn husks, coconut husks, old cardboard, maguey fibers, among many other materials. On this paper they print their words in Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Spanish and English. Then they sell the books over the internet to people all over the world.

This year Taller Leñateros was invited by the renown poetry festival Poesía.en.Voz.Alta to give a rare live performance in Mexico City. That was last week. I feel lucky to have been able to attend, and that I was able to make a high-quality audio recording of the performance. Under a tent in the pouring rain, it was one of the most beautiful stage performances I've ever seen. I'd like to share that.

Download the entire recording here. (42mb) And enjoy.

End of Tour // Off to Honduras

From now until July 18th, 2008 I will be mostly out of contact as I travel through Central America. I will periodically be checking email, but will only have a chance to respond to urgent messages. For Verbobala booking, please use this contact form on the Verbobala site. Gracias, ¡nos vemos después!

The problem with writing about tour is that there is rarely chance to do so. From mid-March until the end of May, Verbobala toured from Tucson to Portland, Boston to San Antonio, New York to Austin. It was our first time on tour in the US, and it was, in short, a blast.

Though Moisés (1/3 of the group) was unable to get a US visa, we were able to re-work our entire set and incorporate him through video projection. He wrote a different poem for just about every stop on the tour, recorded each one, and passed them to us the day of each show. It was incredible watching the audience react to the "mojado digital." I don't think I've ever seen an audience jump to its feet and cheer for a video projection... obviously he was able to transmit more than just his image.

In Worcester we were shown hidden speakeasies, mostly unchanged from the day that Prohibition was repealed. Adam called to the ghosts. In San Antonio we were shown an amazing time and got to meet Grupo Fantasma, a group I have loved for years. We went to Vancouver for a day and I featured at a poetry slam, which makes me feel like I've completed some crazy NAFTA-of-slam. In Tucson we debuted a brand-new full-length piece called Nobody Speaks with our sister group Flam Chen... it feels like the coolest performance I've ever been a part of. We sold t-shirts. I nearly sold out of books again. We played the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City with Patricia Smith and Jamie Caroline. Adam made his poetry open mic debut and offended everyone. We projected video onto the 60-ton, 3 story Cathedral of Junk in Austin with Show Me Tiger. We were on the radio, we scared coeds. We were called weird. We said thank you.

There is video of a lot of this, but it will be a little while before any of it goes online. Stay tuned. There is so much that could be said, so many names to mention.

I've been back in Mexico for about 10 days, catching up with Moi and other close friends. Verbobala has allowed all three of us to make a living with our art, and it feels incredible. I'm in love with this project. We'll be renting a house in Hermosillo in August to work on new material for a Mexican tour that will be September-October. Later in the fall we'd like to do some Canadian dates. There's some ideas for Argentina as well. Hopefully we can work with some people to get Moi's US visa worked out, it would be nice to tour the States again sometime. But we're not sitting around waiting for it.

Here's to hoping for Obama in November.

One thing about tour: it is definitely not vacation. It is a privilege to travel, but it's not relaxing, that's for sure. As of Wednesday, I'm gone traveling. It is time to disappear for awhile again with a blackbook and a pen. I'm headed to Honduras to meet up with a friend, then moving through Nicaragua to Costa Rica. We'll be mostly off the beaten path. As of July 18th I'll be back full-time.

Hasta entonces, amigos. Que les vaya chido.

Los Peces del Viento

Este miércoles es la premiere del documental "Los Peces del Viento" del videoasta Wilfred Massamba. La obra se enfoca en dos poetas bilingües, el mexicano Mardonio Carballo (español-náhuatl) y el estadounidense Logan Phillips (español-inglés), en este estreno contaremos con la presencia de los dos y el grupo Bungalo Dub. Miércoles 11 de junio a las 20:00 hrs en la Alianza Francesa México, Sócrates #156 (esq. Homero), Col. Polanco, México D.F. La entrada es gratis.

This Wednesday is the premiere of the documentary "Los Peces del Viento" by filmmaker Wilfred Massamba. The work focuses on two bilingual poets, Mardonio Carballo (Mexico, Spanish-Náhuatl) and Logan Phillips (USA, English-Spanish). Both will be present at the event, along with the group Bungalo Dub.

Wednesday, June 11th 2008, 8pm at la Alianza Francesa México, Sócrates #156 (esq. Homero), Col. Polanco, Mexico City. Free.

LOS PECES DEL VIENTO Palabras, words, des mots... Mouvement poétique, social et culturel, le «slam» apparaît à Chicago dans les années 80. Basé sur la notion de communauté, le slam affirme le caractère démocratique de la poésie et lui ajoute une dimension de spectacle. Un documentaire de Wilfrid Massamba (52'). Los peces del viento…palabras, words ce ne sont que des mots. La parole se manifeste comme une expression des désirs, pensées, émotions, souffrances, aspirations…

Debate periodístico acerca del spoken word

Últimamente el periódico mexicano Milenio a través de su suplimentario "Laberinto" ha publicado un par de notas que son---por lo menos a mi aparecer---bien interesantes, las dos acerca de las nuevas tendencias de la poesía aquí en México. La primera, entitulada "Poesía al limite," de Rocío Cerón, echa una miradita hacia las "nuevas" formas literarias: el spoken word, los slams de poesía, performance, etc. (Y también, por cierto, incluye una foto de nuestro grupo Verbobala Spoken Video, tomada durante el festival Poesía en Voz Alta.07 de la Casa del Lago) Después viene otra nota, "Di no al spoken word," por Heriberto Yepez, atacando la validez de lo que se llama spoken word. Obviamente no estoy muy de acuerdo con ese infeliz, pero su comentario sí trae unos puntos interesantes y hasta ciertos. A mí, me parece poco útil entrar en cualquier debate de cuales formas de arte si son validos y cuales no, aunque estoy seguro de que escribir de este tipo de polémica está bien para vender periodicos. Prefiero pasar mi tiempo creando mi propio arte, en vez de intentando de quitar el derecho del próximo de hacer lo suyo, solamente porque su arte no es lo que yo considero "arte." ¿Qué es arte? ¿Qué es cultura? ¿Quién tiene derecho de inovar, jóvenes o adultos? ¿Indígenas o estadounidenses? ¿Español o inglés? Son todas cuestiones sin respuestas, y aunque es interesante considerarlas de vez en cuando, yo creo que hay espacio suficiente en este mundo para que cada quien tiene la oportunidad de crear su arte como le da la gana.

Lo que sí está muy bien es que ya la poesía está tomando una nueva fuerza en la sociedad mexicana actual---la poesía en todas sus diversas formas.

Preview of the new Verbobala piece “WORK”

Regular readers of the site will have noticed that I'm not posting new material nearly as often as in the past, and that most of the posts in the last few months have been videos. Signs of the times, amigos.

Hola a tod@s,

well, we're two months into jamming on the new Verbobala piece, whose working title is, well, "WORK." This will be the first piece that we've created completely from scratch, rather than a combination of our solo work. We wanted to give you a glimpse of it now.

The piece will premier at the finale of the 26th Annual Tucson Poetry Festival on April 12th, 2008––US visa gods willing. After that, we'll be touring throughout the US: to the Pacific Northwest, the East Coast, and Texas. There are also plans for the UK this fall. If you know of anyone who might be interested, please let them know.

This video shows off a bit of the shooting we've been doing for the piece. Lots of interviews and time spent in unusual pieces: pulque farms, mesoamerican observatories, illegal mezcal bars. Most of the work thus far has been done in Mexico, though once we start traveling the piece will take on a much more global feel. The video doesn't include any original poetry yet... but imagine pantoums of remixed interviews, Lorca meets Eduardo Galleano meets Cummings, Mexican slam poetry, etc. etc.––this video is just a taste.

Here's the link

There is also higher quality available.

And of course a compilation of some of our 2007 performances.

The audio is a Verbobala remix of the Zizek crew from Argentina. Jacob Cooper of Bark Bark Bark has recently agreed to collaborate on WORK's score. The Tucson premier will also feature a collaboration with spectacle experts Flam Chen.

We have lots of tricks up our collective sleeve, and hope to see you soon.

Ink & airplanes,

Adam, Logan & Moisés

DJ dirtyverbs, roots cumbia n bass

I know I owe the world an update, and multiple promises have been made to get this website more lively again. Here's what's on my mind, taken in part from an email I just wrote to my friend (and powerful poet) Jasmine Sena from Burque: Things are bananas here. I've started DJ'ing parties with this soundsystem sideproject we have going: my hermano Moisés (of Verbobala fame), a Boris Dulon from Argentina (BOROBROS // VSV stage manager // CuernaSlam DJ // psycho-yogi) and I. The idea's based on the Jamaican soundsystems of the 70's, or the early hip-hop MC / DJ combo, or the sonidero idea out of Monterrey. I specialize in cumbia, this kickin dance music originally from Colombia, the other guys do roots reggae and drum 'n bass. It is hot. You should see what happens to a party when we go on at about 3am.

The official drink of the as-of-yet unnamed soundsystem is mezcal con café. If we haven't had a chance to sit down with a bottle of mezcal, hopefully we will soon. I first encountered the stuff in Querétaro, where my compa Craig would buy a half-liter of the cheapest incarnation possible along with a 2-liter Coke. A fourth of the Coke goes down the drain, two bottles become one, and the gringo goes by undetected. Later, in Oaxaca, I found the stuff sold in recycled salsa bottles with handpainted labels and a slice of maguey cactus inside. Time has passed, tastes refined, and if you want to get a party jumping, the recipe is simple: café de olla, chocolate con canela y azúcar, mezcal... y cumbia.

Moi's birthday is coming up later this month, and we'll be playing there. JIUTEPUNK, cumbia hasta lunes. I'd love to record the set and make it available as a podcast. I don't think these words will make much sense without a cumbia beat behind them. Lately, all the days have had a cumbia beat behind them.

Meanwhile, weekdays, I'm finishing up teaching English literature and advanced translation...

Coming soon... Verbobala spring 2008 US tour... DJ'ing and solo gigs on the side, hit me up to plan something!

still alive, home from tour

Yes, I am alive. Yes, there is a hurricane on either side of this country. But by the time the hurricanes reach Cuernavaca, they are long, calm, "female rains" as Emily would call them. They've already combed their eyelashes with the coastal trees, as Jewel would put it. My second night back I ended up at an art opening at La Casona Spencer, where we throw the CuernaSlam. As I was leaving, my friend John said to me, "Well, welcome home." And I realized that I've never come home to Mexico before. But here I am.

I'm teaching three classes at the university this semester: English Literature I, Translation Resources and Translation III. I dig teaching, though it isn't my focus anymore. Why? Well,

2007 Tour By the time it was all over I had done 23 shows in 30 days. I played an abandoned KOA Kamp off I-40 at Two Guns, Arizona at a rock fest run on generators and whiskey. I made the pilgrimage and featured at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC. I did an entire show with my fly unzipped in metropolitan Tempe. Puro exito. Prescott and Bisbee and Silver City reminded me why I love small towns. Albuquerque felt like family. Through they were only printed last April, I've all but sold out of "This Line Drawn Across Footprints" and "Where Do Airplanes Build Their Nests?"

777 fest, Two Guns, AZ

Verbobala A lot has changed this summer. Though I'm in Cuernavaca again, some big opportunities have come up, and the future has started to take a bit of shape. Verbobala Spoken Video is consuming me, which is part of the reason not much has been happening on this site. Moi and Adam consistently blow me away. Collaboration is the only way to go, and it's an honor to be working with them. We're playing Poesía en Voz Alta at Casa del Lago in Mexico City at the end of the month. It's the very same festival that I flipped over last fall. What a difference a year makes. Oh, and speaking of a year: Verbobala university tour, fall 2008? It just may be. I love you AJ Lefty.

TipofyourTongue Festival, Penzance, England I've been waiting to mention this for awhile, but here it is, something I'm extremely excited about: I'll be featuring at the TipofyourTongue Festival in Cornwall, England next month. Verbobala owes its existence in part to this gig, which has been in the works the better part of a year. Verbobala will play on Thursday, I'll do a solo show on Friday, give a workshop and host a show on Saturday. They're putting me to work. It's going to be a great time.

Mexican National Poetry Slam, diciembre 2007 Along with Cara Cummings and a few other asskickers, I am helping to organize the first-ever national poetry slam in Mexico. We're still in talks with potential venues, but it will be the 7th or 8th of December. All are invited. The idea is to send a Team Mexico to the American National Poetry slam in Madison, Wisconsin in August 2008. You'll be hearing more about that. Here's some video from the CuernaSlam de Poesía, which just had its second show last week. I'm pretty proud of how it's been going. You can be our friend on MySpace and feel involved.

Spoken word festival at Arcosanti, mayo 2008 Can't say too much about this yet, but cool things are happening. Stay tuned.