Eduard Escoffet, born in Barcelona in 1979, is a poet and cultural agitator. He has worked in different facets of poetry (visual and written poetry, installations, oral poetry, poetic action), but he has focused his interests on sound poetry and poetry readings. He is a co-founder of the platform projectes poètics sense títol – propost.org. He was co-director of Barcelona Poesia (Barcelona International Poetry Festival) between 2010 and 2012, and director of PROPOSTA, a festival of sound poetry and contemporary poetry at the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (2000-2004). He has published the poetry collections Gaire (2012) and El terra i el cel (2013), as well as the artist’s book Estramps with Evru (2011). Has published two records with the electronic music band Bradien, Pols (2012) and Escala (2015).
Eduard Escoffet: Ode to the Walking Class
By Florian Neuner
The score of Eduard Escoffet’s Ode to the Walking Class is clearly structured, but also contains sections with graphical notation that provide the performers with greater freedom. English is predominant in the five-part piece, but there are also German, Italian, and French passages; Catalan is only present in headings in the score and in an exposed place. In “Walking Class,” Escoffet refers to escape and migration movements, which are often covered as footpaths. In the first section, hikes through the Americas are first hinted at (“I’ve been walking through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador”), followed by an agitational section – “like a demonstration” – with the slogan “Save the Walking Class.” In the score, the author mentions Åke Hodells “Where is Eldrige Cleaver?” as a model – a piece with which the Swedish sound poet was reacting in 1969 to the disappearance of the writer and Black Panther activist. The live, phonetic voices of sprechbohrer are augmented by recordings made by the ensemble with cassette recorders and played on stage: sound improvisations based on Escoffet’s graphic notations.
In addition, there are litany-like enumerations of South American place names and distances, and the slowness of pedestrians is contrasted with other speeds (“the speed of capital”). Escoffet juxtaposes the lists of place names and proper names with asemantic sound music, which is graphically notated and charged expressively; the score contains performance instructions such as “starts phonetic sounds, painful, high” and “keeps doing wild sounds, almost to the limit.” At the beginning of the 4th section, the two Catalan words “son” (sleep) and “fam” (hunger) are contrasted, and their repetition creates a walking rhythm. At the end, you can hear the exclamation “Save the Walking Class” again in energetic unison. In an essay written for the Berlin Poetry Festival, Eduard Escoffet once formulated his aesthetic point of view as follows: “I’ve always believed that one cannot achieve a revolution or make a break as long as one imitates the given or sounds like the whole world.” You can also read this as a plea for a linguistic music that leaves literary conventions and genre boundaries behind.