Before midterm break, English and Creative Writing faculty, students, and friends were treated to a poetry performance by Dr. Andrea Zittlau, visiting professor from the University of Rostock in Germany.
Dr. Zittlau’s poetry performance is meant to show the ways writing is embodied, and the ways poetry creates a space in which we can all be vulnerable. She believes that in theorizing the writing process and the text, we have gotten too far away from the reality of the body. So, as she read her poetry, she had assistants wrap her in bandages—a way to make real the vulnerability of the body, as well as to provide a canvas for the audience. As she concluded with each poem, she tore the paper into pieces, put them in a bowl, and then invited the audience to pick pieces out. The words on the torn pieces were then written on the bandages in black marker by members of the audience.
In this way, the audience became part of the poetry performance. Each person contributed to transforming the poet herself into text, and each person was made more aware of the physicality of the poet, her vulnerability, and our human connection. A stillness held over the audience as Dr. Zittlau walked through the group gathered in the Art Gallery and individuals came forward to write on her. Then audience members came forward at the end to take pictures of what they had helped to make. Here are some of these images, courtesy of English alum and instructor Chris Murphy.