In this paper I examine three recent performance works where poetic language has been extended beyond words to evoke the body in unusual, speculative and potentially transformative ways. The works I will reference are: The Howling Girls (2018), an opera by Adena Jacobs and Damien Ricketson; Speechless (2019), an opera created by Cat Hope; and a series of participatory performances by Catherine Clover. The works all have in common a goal to push poetic language to extreme or unusual places as a way to explore subjects such as loss, trauma and fear, but also possibility, transformation and renewal. The paper will analyse techniques used by the artists; discuss the impact and effect of the various approaches; and argue for the way performance works are uniquely placed to employ poetic language in this way.
Keywords: poetry; performance writing; poetic language