A loop-pedal violin performance and the author’s reading inspired us to pick up a copy of his new book
You’re in a room full of people. There’s a gentle hum of conversation and sporadic sounds of clinking glasses. A small bell begins ringing and voices trail off as people notice the source of the sound: a man—with his back to everyone—pacing along the back wall. The room is silent, anticipation hangs in the air. Then, a collective chuckle resonates in the room as Norman Nawrocki, the man of the evening, stops ringing the bell and turns from the wall to reveal the Groucho glasses on his face. He makes his way to the stage singing, slowly clapping and inviting the audience to repeat his words.
This was only the beginning of Nawrocki’s book launch on Oct. 13 at Casa del Poppolo. AGITATE! Anarchist rants, raps, and poems is his 13th book with illustrations by Montreal artist Mathieu Chartrand. The launch entailed a loop-pedal violin performance and a reading by the author. It was aggressively theatrical but in an awesome and passionate way.
Nawrocki wasn’t afraid to interact with the audience and was neither confined by the stage nor the traditional ways of manipulating a violin. He used drumsticks both on the strings and body of the violin along with an elastic band around the body to pluck along with the strings. With the consistent use of a loop pedal throughout, Nawrocki mixed literature, music, and theatre in his performance. As an artist he shares what he sees, experiences, and processes by harnessing his skills and background as a cabaret performer. His biography boasts no less than 12 other published pieces of writing, multiple sex-show tours, time as a teacher, and a culmination of 50 albums released either solo or with his bands. Eccentric, passionate and rebellious are only a few words to describe the character and style of Montreal’s Norman Nawrocki.
AGITATE! is his newest publication with the majority of its pieces being created by Norman over the past year. Its subject matter approaches a wide range of present day issues, from terrorism to sexism. “[This book offers] new perspectives on a whole lot of different issues that are contemporary, important issues. Perspectives that maybe will help people think their way out of a lot of the confusion that exists out there given all the lies that the media spews, all the lies coming out of the Harper government all the time,” said Nawrocki. “People want things to change and this book is like a primer for a lot of people who want to get active, who want to do things but don’t know where to start or what to do.”
Nawrocki has an overall passion for the medium of the written word and the power it holds, but also believes that the power of access to media dissemination comes with a social responsibility to talk about important things. “I think right now artists in general have a responsibility to talk about all these issues, we can’t wait anymore,” said Nawrocki. “How do you motivate people? How do you win people’s hearts and minds? How do you get people to do things? Poetry for me, and this book, is one means to do that.”
A few places you can pick up a copy of AGITATE! are the Concordia Coop Bookstore, Paragraph Books, or The Word.