The Executioner’s Song (new poetry video)

The Executioner’s Song

Death Becomes Her
by

Caitlyn M. Anderson for Jennifer Loves Jane, Vol 3, Issue 1, March 2011

See ‘The Executioner’s Song’ at

Hidden on a side street in one of America’s oldest cities is the modest studio of Cassandra Tribe. There is no running water, no indoor plumbing and only one window lets in a meager amount of light. The studio is aptly nicknamed, “The Cave.” It is here in the darkness that what can only be considered genius thrives.

Cassandra Tribe has been called everything from the Keyser Söze of American poetry to the Architect of the Soul. With a following in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, her own country is just beginning to discover her. Reviewers here seem driven to find some kind of label for her work that will allow them to tuck her away. Yet, with every new release, she defies any attempt to contain her work. Her catalog includes spoken word recordings, orchestral compositions, dance music, poetry books, video art and social commentary. Her work has been translated into seven different languages, published in numerous periodicals and she is included on WORs list of the 25 Most Influential American Women Artists of the 2000 Decade.

It seems fitting that the same city that influenced two of America’s greatest creative writers, Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, is the one Cassandra Tribe chooses to call home. All three share the same quality of darkness, revelation and madness in their work. All three have found inspiration while quietly haunting the streets of Providence, RI.

Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, Tribe relocated to Providence in the late 80s to attend the Rhode Island School of Design. After earning her degree she embarked on a life that can only be termed as cinematic, traveling the globe with the US Army and then as a Union Ironworker and performer. Her life experiences give a depth to her vision and understanding of the world that has led to such video works as Requiem for a God, the Demon of Providence and the Rest of the World; and print works such as the award winning Monster, the Dreams of Bees and the Madness of Desire.

Her latest release, a video performance of her poem “The Executioner’s Song,” is Tribe at her level best. From the quite literal opening shot, you know that this will not be a plain recitation of a typical poem condemning capital punishment. Instead, the viewer enters Tribe’s unique world and is treated to a multifaceted story told vocally, physically, through characterization and text.

Rather than drone the poem in dark and serious tones, Tribe performs it in a rhyming singsong, which lends to the gravity of her words the perverted sensibility of a nursery rhyme – a commentary in and of itself on societies that endorse capital punishment. Each frame is a metaphor, allusion or reference. Tribe challenges the viewer to meet her within the complexity of the issue. Her videos are ones that can be watched over and over because with each viewing, another layer of meaning is revealed.

Cassandra Tribe is a surprising person, and that is something that is rarely said about anyone. For a master of dark revelation and introspection she is funny, energetic and full of the kind of shining life that draws people to her. Underneath her enjoyable character though, lies a mind that is never at rest.

Her blog, LoveandWords, syndicated to over 64 social and news sites, contains her daily explorations of the reality, meaning and the implications of our choices and habits. A volunteer staff writer for Rhode Island’s homeless advocacy newspaper, Street Sights, her opinion pieces and investigative articles seek to not only shine a light on the ills of the society, but to find solutions for curing them. Anyone who has attended her 5-week workshops at the Learning Connection in Providence knows that when Cassandra Tribe teaches, one learns more than the art of writing. She teaches the art of living.

Michael Quigg has written no better commentary of her, as a person or artist, then that in 2009 for The Culture Network:

“There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is – both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our innermost workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs; our nuts and bolts are removed and laid before us. Cassandra Tribe is a true artist…even when she’s not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds.”

You can find her latest video, “The Executioner’s Song” on youtube (http://youtube.com/cassandratribe) or on her website, Love and Words (http://loveandwords.com)

The Executioner’s Song

Caitlyn M. Anderson for Jennifer Loves Jane, Vol 3, Issue 1, March 2011

c.2011 Caitlyn M. Anderson
Available for reprint with attribution.
Copy may be modified for length only.

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About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
This entry was posted in art, creative, life, performance art, poem, poetry, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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