THE ALL-UNION DAY OF THE SHOCK WORKER

Edwin Torres, Author . Roof $10.95 (110p) ISBN 978-1-931824-00-2

"AYYY: soy bilingual... pero BILINGUALISSIMO!... de nada!" screams the 18-point sans serif font of "A Nuyo-Futurist's Manfestiny," the Blast-like final section of this frenetic yet elegantly conceived collection. A deft recombination of digital media and information arts, mock multiculturalist imperatives, performance and sound poetry and post-Language subjective lyricism, Shock Worker is one more unexpected twist in the career of Torres, a New York poet who was once associated with the performance poets of the Nuyorican cafe. While some of the poems resemble exploded bilingual eye charts designed by El Lissitzsky or astrological diagrams for deviant religions, this book has lovely quiet moments; the delicate lyric "Separatist Invasion" is a little mantra against the alienated sensibility: "There have been a thousand sightings/ of people I used to know./ Separations of copies of/ who it is they look like, backed up/ by carbons of who they are.../ The concert has happened/ and all these people of me,/ have still to go home." From the title, one might expect a ton of agitprop politics with a self-conscious overloading of verbal and visual effects, but the politics are in the process—the poet moving forward in fleshly 3-D, formatting his words graffiti-like on the page and asking in his inebriated digital creole: "Ever put the New in Yo?" (Mar.)

Forecast:Torres, who should not be confused with the New York City Criminal Court judge of the same name who wrote Carlito's Way, is nonetheless huge in that city. But his work, including lots of slam-based audio, circulates by way of less promotionally minded independent presses (like Roof and Subpress) and hasn't quite reached the national audience it deserves, despite being often anthologized.

Reviewed on: 03/18/2002
Release date: 10/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
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