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Cin Salach

Cin Salach is one of only a handful of poets from Chicago who have commingled interdisciplinary art and poetry through their entire careers. Beginning in the late 1980s, her partnerships in various ensembles have consistently opened fresh terrain for Chicago's poetry audiences.

Her first ensemble work started around 1989 with The Loofah Method, an evolving multimedia group which incorporated performance art, dance, music, film, computer-generated images and sound, and video. Loofah Method created performance poetry revues through two distinct phases of its life. The first phase was mostly among Salach's close friends, whereby the ensemble functioned like a band, with Mark Messing as the lead musical composer, arranger, and performer. The second phase retained Messing with a more professionally directed and theatrical collaboration, including Sue Walsh with original photography and Kurt Heintz on original video. Loofah Method folded eventually in 1995.

Contemporary with the Loofah Method, Salach was in another ensemble called The Bob Shakespeare Band, which included Sheila Donohue, Kendall Dunkleberg, Marc Smith, and others. Later, Donohue and Salach continued the ensemble work on their own as a duo named Betty's Mouth, after one of Salach's poems which they performed with tightly interwoven speech.

In the late 1990s, Salach launched a new ensemble called Ten Tongues. It included key members of the former Loofah Method, namely composer Mark Messing, and Loofah Method's co-creator Mark Penner-Howell. Ten Tongues executed more acoustic, spiritual, and far less technological programs than the Loofah Method did; some of the group's instruments were either found objects or are fabricated from such.

In late 2001, Salach took yet another collaborative turn in a production with Eric Rosen of About Face Theater, called "Undone." Performed as a mix of musical theater and poetic monologue, the show charted Salach's evolving sexual identity from dating in high school, through marriage, divorce, and her personal coming to terms with lesbianism.

Salach is published in the Guild Complex's "Power Lines" and "Stray Bullets" anthologies, and in her own first folio "Looking for a Soft Place to Land" (all published by Tia Chucha Press). She makes aural appearances on the CD anthologies "By Someone's Good Grace" (Splinter Group) and "A Snake in the Heart" (Tia Chucha). About Face produced an audio CD cast recording of "Undone" in the winter of 2001-2002. For additional background on Cin Salach and her contributions to the origins of slam poetry, consult An Incomplete History of Slam.

The track below is from a sampler CD called "Taste" produced by Ten Tongues in 1999. Click to listen: