Most people think about the connections between music and poetry in a very abstract way — that assonance is the descendant of rhyme or that music and poetry occupy very different spaces. For me, music is the first poetry that I ever learned. I come from an oral culture — or at least an aural culture of performance and music, drama and stories.
Like much of his previous work, Rodrigo Toscano’s Explosion Rocks Springfield (Fence Books, 2016) defamiliarizes language. The book examines the relationship between the energy and the service industry, having been prompted by a natural gas explosion that took place five years ago in Massachusetts, destroying a strip club next to a day care center. It highlights the degree to which the experience of the media shapes the experience of the social, if not the political, as it incorporates some journalistic material but separates what is newsworthy from what is noteworthy.
To think of haunting as abstract and divorced from a present history is to depoliticize the present moment in which brown bodies actively resist oppression — be it from corrupt governments, institutional racism, and/or misogyny sponsored by a patriarchal culture. Yes, there is a past that haunts Caribbean poetic and imaginary landscapes: slavery, indenture, and colonization.