This is odd. (Pause. Huff.) There are too many limbs. Why limbs? Why toes on limbs? Why limbs at all? Why fear of limbs? This isn’t deformity. Where are legs? Two legs. Where are elbows? Why nose? Why this instead of houses? Why boxes? Why not explain? Why mention? Why invite invent intent a cause for all these effects?
Croak is a frog-and-girl opera in three parts, played out like a YouTube mashup of mid-century cartoons, all set to a contemporary pop song. It parades, mutilates and reacquaints Kermit the Frog with Girl 00010111, Michigan J. with Aristophanes, and biblical plagues with caged canaries in a vaudevillian play of time, culture, gender and narrative. Combining vivisection and classical literature, empirical observation and philosophical speculation, Sampirisi's grotesque characters splash and sparkle before moving toward their inevitable narrative end.
In conversation with Samuel Beckett's Words & Music, Croak presents a negotiation between the doom and gloom of a species in crisis and the many empirical markers we attach to them. Sampirisi reminds us that we are all porous in the mud of language.
‘I haven’t read a book of poetry as tonally sly (strange), and as formally surprising
– in that it never levels off into a settled shape, though the voicing is
always grounded in ongoing immediacy – as Jenny Sampirisi’s Croak in a long
time. The world this writing performs takes deformation as a kind of functional
and nonetheless staged condition its characters give off and exploit,
emotional intelligence streaming beneath the action with a perfectly measured
balance of humour and consequence.’ – Anselm Berrigan