Day 2: Peforming Beyond Her Page: Cecilia Vicuna







I believe poetry is transformed, often mutated or even resurrected through the act of performance in various ways. The most basic would be the way an author reads a selection from their polished novel or book of poems. What is experiential about a reading like that is the life the poet literally brings to their words — words you probably spent time with alone reading, rereading, and critiquing. When we move to a performance much like a poetry slam, the poetic verse seems visceral, guttural. The performance has been practiced, often written to a beat or cadence that is productive for a presentation. The presentation in a way is the poetic form. While a printed copy of a poetry slam poem may be powerful to read and critique, the true aesthetic quality of the poetry is in the delivery.

I spent my time looking at the Vicuna transcript alongside the audio.

Vicuna’s use of song at the start of her piece does many things. First, it acclimates the reader, much like the start of a movie or opening credits/music force the audience to slowly drift away from reality. Away from thoughts of your day, what’s trending, and what is on your to-do list. The music lures your mind to open.

(on a side-note I did find it interesting and funny that when she said “dark” loudly there was the clamor of microphone adjustment I found very appropriate)

Vicuna has a whispering, sensual voice:

but i will pick up with the pistasho

pistacho? no



the BPII’schtaKo myth

Here she provides a foreign word alongside a familiar sound. Pistasho itself is an odd word to say, a specialty nut, and the enunciation of the word is more powerful than reading it, although I see writing down this explanation would be valuable for those with only the printed version.

this creature called the BPI’stako lives

and this creature has been ahh

placed there by the europeans

and his purpose is to eat up all the indians

that come down the city

Vicuna’s rhythm and whispered voice is haunting, the enunciation of the ‘stako echoes inside your ears, vibrates through your chest. Why? Because what she speaks of is haunting–of the hegemonic power monster of the colonizers that in history books is invisible–nonexistent at times. This is commentary on the myth of the wrongdoings, manifested into a creature who’s purpose is to “eat up all the indians.” Is the creature eating away at their souls, their culture, their identities? Perhaps it swallows identities and forces one into submission–into nothingness.

so when you come into the city

you here this hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

like youre hearing right now

The city has swallowed the now-foreign body, swallowed it whole so nothing but the colonizer’s hum of their machines is left. Could we not relate this to today? To the constant hummmmmmmmmmmm of machines both detectable and almost silent because we are so used to them? Vicunas is commenting on the domineering hegemonic power that is mythical in its power, its strength.

and the hummmmm of all machines

of airplanes and cars and so forth

is the sound of this BPIII’schtako

that has eaten up

and is continuing to eat all the indians

In reality, this “monster” is shapeless and never held to consequence because can you name the BPIII’schtako? Can you define who or what is to blame for the utter destruction and absorption of a culture?

?Adoooónde vaaaan los suuuuaves inuuuuméros….

Her onomatopoeia here complete and all inclusive. It is haunting–as haunting as her words and it drifts out of space.

1 thought on “Day 2: Peforming Beyond Her Page: Cecilia Vicuna

  1. Your points about her music and delivery setting the ambiance and opening the mind are spot on I think…though the white audience member’s (almost rude) interruption of her performance and the need for disruption due to technical difficulties along with Vicuna’s sickness (infected by europeanness as a mestiza herself?) served to crystallize the idea of european absorption of native orality and the resulting “loss” of the prior myth perfectly epitomized the central theme of her performance in such a way as to bring suspicion of orchestration into my already paranoid mind

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