Everything you need to understand or teach The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky.
Winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry, Daniel Borzutsky’s The Performance of Becoming Human expresses, in a sequence of bracing, hallucinatory vignettes, the categorical dissolution of the human body by the socio-political conditions imposed on individuals by the nation state. On one hand, Borzutsky’s collection works in the tradition of modernist lyric poems which look, from the perspective of the subjective “I,” at the modern world in apocalyptic terms. The Performance of Becoming Human differs from tradition in its insistence on locating the apocalyptic present in specific political, rather than aesthetic, contexts: Borzutsky precisely grounds abject images of mutilated body parts and alienated subjectivity in Chicago, Chile, and in innumerable border-crossing tragedies. The Performance of Becoming Human thus resists participating in the bureaucratization of the human body by refusing to draw borders between the personal, the political, and the poetical.