"Collapsible Poetics Theatre"
To say that Toscano’s “Collapsible Poetics Theatre” is a mere reflection on what has become an all-consuming Globalism (in poetry, art, industry, and the society mirrored by the interconnectivity of these arenas) would be a vast understating of what appears to be the book’s objective. Instead of mere polarization into rejection of what is (for an acceptance of what can be) or an acceptance of what is and a satire of where we seek to change, Toscano’s work is a marked attempt at defining the inner relationship driving our decision either way. While there is a concentrated aim to modern art, which results from the experience of the past, Toscano means to create a counter institution or counter ground. The “Collapsible Poetics Theatre” is a theatre/poetry anti-school-conversation, a side-perspective from which we can see all sides tugging and how we have been tugged.
Toscano opens his book with an interesting statement: “Alienable Dividuals. Entities. Seek a freedom in, not from.” As suggested by “Alienable Dividuals” Toscano is toying with the idea that we are portions of a whole acting in (an almost geometrical) relationship with each other:
(1) How’s it that we’re four distinct entities here?
(4) How’s it that we’re singular and one-at-a-time ?
(2) How’s it that we’re each one quarter of a whole?
(3) How’s it that we’re each four times more than the other
For an explanation to why we are in Geometry with one another, according to Toscano, one need only look as far as our unconscious, daily activity. As Toscano opens “TRUAX INIMICAL,” there is a distinct mechanization in what seems to be our computer usury:
The poem builds upon this concept. These options/ anti-options become more overwhelmingly inclusive of personalities and people. Until, in eventuality, externally, we see this mechanical structure to represent ourselves and what we expect out of art.
The ways in which Toscano means to reveal the mechanical mold of the modern artist are perhaps even more clear in (within the context of “Eco-Strato-Static”) needing to read “Group B” and “Dance” “In the approximate rhythm of their twinkling” or by drawing out a “spokesperson” (accomplished through dangling “…a giant mic from a giant crane” [as though fishing out the means to stardom by hooking others on the self]). Indeed, the creation of this counter or perhaps actual reality is reflective of the poets plight, that he/she must sell himself/herself (at times, regardless of worth).
In general, worth or the attaining of this worth is something pivotal in “Collapsible Poetics Theatre,” as in every differing piece the poetic voices are unnamed. While they are referred to in the introductory piece as numbers (which almost makes them seem like mechanical components), they are later referred to as equally ambiguous “players” (as though they are simple components of a mathematical calculation). Additionally, different characters are indicated by left alignment or right alignment (which in the case of “Eco-Strato-Static” may signify a mirroring artistic leniency) and Bold, Italic, or normal text (which might again be a signal to archetype). The relationship between voices and their ambiguity (the created space) become a yearning for identity that often reinforces their ambiguity (as well as greater points about it [another alternate area of discussion]).
While this worth is something that Toscano is directly concerned with, he is also content to point out the function of modern art. In “BALM TO BILK,” voice 1 counters counter voice 2 “you can’t… ‘blick’ that.” Mainly, this is because
based purely on affect
outside the realm of
objects, object’s origins, relations
nth degree determinations of—” [cannot be regarded as poetry]
Voice one additionally asks “where are the imbedded social demands; in this stuff.” Yet, down the page, voice 1 begins to speak with the terms of voice 2 (as voice 2 speaks to the logical yearnings of voice 1). What results is a counter artistic ground where one can see both functional sides of the artistic self. The reader is led to think about themselves as one voice or the other and (upon re-examination) to think about themselves completely differently.
There are more overt ways that Toscano seeks to create a combined alternate ground. In certain portions, differing voices depend upon each other to syntactically construct the meaning of the whole:
In other cases, the voices interact with the perceptions of one another. “Eco-Strato-Static” is a poem where a voice mentally drives the actions of the different voice, as though one voice is the process of thought and the other the externalization of that thought. This internal relationship gets cloudy, as at one point there is a complete disconnection:
Start acting like you have an innovative product.
I’m acting like I have an innovative product.
It seems that even the disconnection of one aspect of a person to another creates a complete counter conversation. After losing track of the mental portion, the previously quoted poem regains its bearings and argues with itself.
As the continual creation of a counter-ground, Toscano’s “Collapsible Poetics Theatre” is just that. It continually stresses its own demands and then demands more. Theatrical components of “Clock, Deck, and Movement” become a purposely over-demanding poetry of direction. Where directions might previously be conceptualized as simply inclinations, exhibited in performance, it seems Toscano means for the performance to exhibit the intricacy of the cues. Moreover, Toscano means to create additional counter-ground in how we are meant to take this predestinated material and construct the play on the page.
Eventually, what results in the “Collapsible Poetics Theatre” is a collapse of the known world into itself (much like a curtain [surrounding us at all times] bunching up as it streams to the ground). A vision is made available through newly gained perceptional ground. We see things about culture, politics, society, economy, and identity we’ve never seen (or have, in hopes of retaining certain delusions, refused to see).