The Nerves Centre is a series of poems about performance (and other) anxiety, told through the jittery stop-and-start actions of a stagefright-afflicted Performer who can't speak while on stage. The Performer's linguistically vaudevillian performances are punctuated with sound poems that capture the moments of panic she experiences. Constructed from recordings of actual panic attacks that were poorly transcribed by increasingly confused transcription software, then reshaped into poems for the page, these sound and breath pieces create a palpable experience of a Performer caught in the moment of panic. These are poems with roots in vaudeville, silent comedy, Beckettian mime, sessions with your therapist, and stage fright. Never judgemental, always hopeful that this time the performance will work, Szczepaniak brings a slapstick sensibility to every poem, a deep compassion for anyone struggling to find their voice, trying to speak, or having trouble with a pesky boulder.
Angela Szczepaniak's writing has appeared in Mad Hatter's Review, Pilot, P-Queue, Phoebe, foursquare, among other journals and anthologies. She recently participated in a hygiene themed poetry-art project with LOCCAL, and as a result some of her work can be found on placards in the better public restrooms of Seattle. She studies and teaches at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and lives mainly in Toronto.
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