Casey L. Rocheteau, very possibly the best politically-geared voice in New England performance poetry, has just released a short chapbook called List of American Rituals and an album called Pump Your Concrete (OH WORD! the Album).
I'm going to try to lay out this analogy that I thought of about two-thirds of the way into listening to this album:
Imagine that you take your kids to a puppet show at a little theater two towns over. The theater is called The Whitehaus. The puppets are extremely colorful and look homemade: there are a couple of very elaborate sock puppets, one large wooden puppet with the knobs of branches sticking out, and several taxedermied chipmunks that act as the play's "chorus." The songs are folksy and extremely catchy. The kids love it.
But as you listen to the dialogue, you notice something different. The characters aren't talking about baking cookies and visiting Grandma; they're discussing the horrors of American capitalism and the dark history of its racial tension. They're not frolicking through the woods; they're diving through dumpsters. In short: this is some subversive shit.
A lot of the other parents make their kids get up and they leave, muttering. But you stay. You stay because you get it. And the kids have fun, and everyone who stays learns something about themselves and each other.
Or, as Brian (who appears on the album) put it, "It's very good, but it's very real."
The CD offers a lot more than the chapbook in terms of quantity and depth, but I strongly recommend getting both, if only so that you can fully appreciate "Refuse," which might be frustrating to listen to without a libretto, and which is too good of a poem not to receive clearly.
Casey will be the feature for the Emerson Poetry Project tomorrow night (November 3rd) in Room 202 at 120 Boylston Street. Doors open at 7:30, mic starts at 8.