H  e  d  w  i  g     G  o  r  s  k  i®

The first performance poet to designate her voice as performance poetry is an experimental text artist and scholar using a native passport to invent by ignoring the limitation of boundary. She is an artist-poet who has a desire to be all things to all people, an aesthetic nomad


PHOTO Credit Peredmirka, Louisiana, 2006 

    Let me assure you; I am the last one you would expect to be in a position of authority: abused, rejected, poor, a woman, a member of a dozen different minority groups discriminated against in this world, which can be for the corporate greedy and walled bureaucracies a site of stolen might and privilege. I am a minority within a minority within invisible minorities. You would expect me to be an ant. But I am an educated American woman with a voice for the lowly creating an artistic world that floats on top of opposing opinion as well as the status quo cartels that systematically ignore or hate me. No enemies could betray me more than my own embedded insecurities, which are brutal and cruel, an attitude that mirrors an indestructible, aphoristic Slavic heritage. What else is poetry?  hg

                                                                                  BRIEF BIO                                                                          

Hedwig Gorski is an artist-poet. She coined the term “performance poetry” to describe her spoken words recorded during radio broadcasts with East of Eden Band.  She published three books of poetry and released several audio collections before 1994. Intoxication: Heathcliff on Powell Street, the latest book by Slough in a second printing 2009 is a art memoir/archive about her 1978 experimental theater, a cut-up neo-verse drama titled "Booby, Mama!" which is a precursor to the performance poetry movement and slam.  Her BFA degree from NSCAD, a world famous radical art school, is in painting. She received a doctorate in creative writing in 2001, Louisiana Artist’s Fellowship in 2002, and a Fulbright to lecture in Poland in 2003. The radio drama Thirteen Donuts, a charming tribute to Polish immigrants in New Orleans during Solidarity in Poland, received an award from National Audio Theatre in 2002.    


Artistic influences include the avant-garde and experimental across genres such as conceptual art and Beat poetry including individual artists and writers such as Mayakovsky, Khlebnikov, Warhol, Pound, Eliot, Philip Glass, John Cage, Jim Jarmusch, Dylan, Foucalt, Polanski, Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Grotowski, Gombrowicz, Milosz, and Szymborska. She has been called the American Mayakovsky for her playfulness, optimism, and attachment to the working class and farmers.
The scholar and poet describes her life as that of a Slavic nomad due to a family history of displacement in addition with her love for traveling. Her parents and sister immigrated to the United States from Poland's frontier, Galicia, in what is Ukraine since World War II, where her aunt and grandmother were murdered by Ukrainian partisans during the rampant massacres of Poles. Gorski learned her mother is an ethnic Ukrainian, something both parents kept secret due to her Polish father's hatred of the partisans who slaughtered the women in his family. Before returning to the United States after her Fulbright in Poland, 2004, Gorski located and visited cousins in the small villages of central Ukraine and learned the secrets of her multiple ethnic origins.
Her father joined the Polish Underground at age 14 and later the American army arriving with his family in the United States on the General Sturgis which docked in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her father did electrical work in Napoleonville before they moved to New Jersey where Gorski was born in 1949. In 1976, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (NSCAD) in Canada then returned to the South and Southwest. In Austin, Texas, Gorski's journey of invention and intense self-discovery continued after finding a foundation for it in New Orleans during 1973-74. 

 Out now on CD Baby and elsewhere! 30-minute radio drama about Polish immigrants in New Orleans who use voodoo to beat martial law against Solidarity. Purchase CD here. First broadcast on KRVS-FM radio as part of the Deep South Writer's Conference, University of Louisana. 


Poetique is a micro book 4.25" x 5.25" of 60 pages: selected performance poetry in the same sequence as on Hedwig Gorski's audio CD of radio broadcasts w/ East of Eden Band, Send in the Clown. Poetique is the first in a series of new micro books made to carry around for an emergency of emotion or gift to friends who don't enjoy trite greeting cards by mailing directly to them from amazon.com. Make performance poetry your cover tunes.


Carencro, Louisiana 2009

New Orleans, 2008

PHOTO by Harold Baquet

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1980s Performance Poetry Movement History of Slam

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Hedwig Gorski


Composer Collaborator

"Gorski, who is widely acknowledged as one of our most innovative and compelling poets, is first-generation Polish American. Echoes of Eastern Europe reverberate through her complex verbal interplay, lingering especially in her phrasing.”New Texas Magazine              


Gorski’s audio recordings have been played on radio stations around the world and charted on several Canadian stations in rotation with Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, and Leonard Cohen. She has also produced successful audio poetry anthologies for broadcast. Most of her band recordings were recorded live while being broadcast on the radio program Live Set at KUT-FM. She performed live on KLRN, KAZI, KRVS, worked with WWOZ in New Orleans, and her audio was featured internationally on radio programs associated with alternative and spoken word programming during the independent audio revolution.


For many years, people who heard about or saw the name did not know whether Hedwig Gorski was a man or woman. The name confused them until they heard her voice on the radio with her band. Some say that John Cameron Mitchell was inspired by this confusion to write Hedwig and the Angry Inch. This excerpt from her neo-verse drama Booby, Mama! (1978) shows the strong connection between Hedwig in Angry Inch and the hermaphrodite character, Krzysta.


Excerpt from the dialogue of the hermaphrodite character Krzysta in Gorski's 1978 found-text verse play Booby, Mama!:


"The skinny kid put her little-girl, pretty pink lips on an orange from the garbage sucking cool sweetness from the inside; as the green mold on the stiff skin couldn't resist the pull of her little-girlness and snuck inside as she sucked."

  (OWNER fingers in sign language as she speaks.)


"'You don't have enough money to buy a piece of candy,' fingered the owner to the deaf girl." 


View photos of Booby, Mama! productions/rehearsals from two different productions on FLICKR and the book Intoxication: Heathcliff on Powell Street.


The entire script for Booby, Mama! is published in the new book by Slough Press titled  Intoxication: Heathcliff on Powell Street. Her art memoir chronicles the experimental production of the play and the antics of its found troupe of players. Sold on Amazon.com.

"These are possibilities and haunting spaces we could turn and return to in considering the significance of Gorski's Austin  . . . unrecognizable in productive ways."         Alan Clinton, Reconstruction   from book review of Intoxication: Heathcliff on Powell Street


Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it.   Vladimir Mayakovsky

Gorski states: “The title of the CD, Send in the Clown, indicates my understatement of the poet in American society, shouting from the top of her lungs like an amusement similar to those Def Poets on television, with little or no consequence. Postmodern poetry is drowning in forgettable texts with nothing new or significant enough to compete even with conventional entertainment and technology. Twenty-first century poetry needs to reconnect with the inventive aesthetics found in deeper modernist roots and high-modernist masters, such as Eliot, Pound, and Gertrude Stein. I see my all-American avant-gardism in a sort of trendy global way as a continuation of Mayakovsky’s compassionate form of Russian Futurism. The poems I write express solidarity with a hidden third world in the United States.”
Teenager in Nova Scotia
filmed on the Vermilion River in Lafayette, Louisiana, 2009
"fisherman's daughter . . . dreams of the boys a few miles down the bayside
road. Maybe she'll become an artist and describe her old dad, and the ocean."

                                NEW DECONSTRUCTION OF AUDIO POEM

"Just a fly keeps me company tonight,

every which way and wild."

YouTube video 

Garnier's deconstruction of the Gorski poem title "Rising Melodic Chords" presented to University of Louisiana music department in a Dec. 2008 recital on campus. Audio Published in the Second Exhibition of Toxic Poetry, 2010.

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 hhEDThe Hedwig Gorski Glossaria of Terms Coinage

Hedwig Gorski is known for coining words to describe unnamed culture and movements. She is best known for naming the "Performance Poetry" genre as a description of her work in the late 1970s to early 1990s. The term took off to describe poems written for staging instead of print. It is the antecedent of popular forms in the broader genre of Spoken Word, such as Slam.

       (the newest term is:)

       Simulacrum friends - Social networking friends, fans, followers,   
       colleagues, etc., with whom we have not actual face-to-face contact  
       but share a variety of details about our lives, sometimes emotional or   
       significant, using text and looking at a photo. There's an old Polish 
       aphorism that can be applied to this type of friendship: (my version of it) pointless "like a wolf staring at a landscape painting."
Invisible minority - The European and other distinct national and ethnic cultural groups in America and elsewhere, such as Slavs and Roma, who are not visibly distinct or have been subsumed by imperialist politics. Ukraine is a national example obscured by Russia in global awareness. Poles, an example closer to home, disappear in White America. Whether this is a positive or negative aspect of the twentieth-century melting pot master narrative is debatable.  
The Ukrainian language, culture, and history are distinct and unique, like all invisible minority cultures, and they also suffer some sort of discrimination as The Other culture. Another good example of the exotic quality ascribed to the The Other invisible minority culture are Roma populations in Europe. Poet Darrell Bourque calls the word gypsy  a "trope." For me, the gypsy trope is an exotic distillation, a remnant memory of Slavonic tribalism, and added to our Gorski family secret from a tragic settler's life in the outland Polish-Ukrainian territory of Galicia  
Audio anthology  The term for a collection of audio recordings from different poets assembled into a single collection originated with the production Austin Poets Audio Anthology Project, 1986, in Texas, produced and directed by Hedwig with grants from city coffers. The practice originated with John Giorno and others.

Litera  The name I gave to a so-called "high brow" column initiated about literature and events at the birth of The Austin Chronicle in 1981. Means alphabet "letter" in Polish.

Voltaire's Basement - A place where aspiring intellectuals practice their writing arts underground. The name was first applied to a bookstore-stage venue in Austin, Texas, in the early 1980s. View photos on FLICKR

Performance Poet (ry )- Originally used to describe Booby, Mama! (1977) a new verse drama before publication of the term in the Austin Chronicle Litera column (1981).  Text-dominated performance art. Poetry written for or during performance instead of for print publication. Different from reading or 
theatrical tricks to present poems originally written to be published in  
books or magazines. "I stopped writing for print publication. I 
wanted my audience to know I was not just scheduling ordinary  
poetry readings, that I was writing only for my voice, not to submit to 
presses. I was writing only for radio, for my composer collaborator, 
my multi-ethnic band, for recordings, for the stage, not boring,   
safe, quiet white pages."

Neo-Verse Drama
Modern manifestations of the scripted and 
staged/produced theater that features poetry, usually free verse,     
in the dialogue. It must be written for at least two separate 
voices/characters in conversation, e.g. Booby, Mama!  Otherwise, it  
is a spoken word monologue.

Post-postmodern- The dummying down with cultural democracy which came about due to both political neo-conservatism and liberal political correctness. The cultural black-hole beginning with attacks on the NEA in the 1990s. Aesthetic stagnation in poetry: sameness and predictability due to decades of MFA poetry workshop browbeating creating understandable acceptable poems.

Creative Literary Criticism - Inventive approaches that analyze serious literature validated by academics and vetted by reputable journals. Conceptual, philosophic and theoretical. Solid creative logic mixed with reputable analysis. Read this article for an example:

“The Riddle of Correspondences in A. S. Byatt’s Possession: A Romance and H. D.’s Trilogy. Storytelling. Vol. 5 No. 4, Summer 2006, Washington: Heldref Publications, 223-35.


Democratic Canon - Wiki-style approach to a valuation of literature. Works in concert with Academia to set standards, but eliminates the hegemony by academics. Inclusive and open-minded without degradation of literature to dross. An expanded definition of literature to include texts using contemporary media in addition to the printing.

Artist-poets - Those who apply training and talents in the visual arts and in literature to invent and create the new approaches in poetry. They avoid formulaic and how-to approaches when writing in order to invent new aesthetic gains.

Pet sitting - In 1980, while starting a local business in Austin, Texas, Hedwig lived north of the University of Texas in the Hyde Park area on Avenue C and started a in-home pet care service. While creating the first fliers to advertise the business, Hyde Park Pet Sitting, she changed baby sitting to pet sitting, and the term took off.

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