May 5, 2008

it ain't in the writin' it's in the recitin'" -- No!

I'm not sure how many (of the few) of you who visit & read this Blog read the comments posted by others; my guess is it's a rather small number. For that reason I am posting this poem from The Poet Essence that she originally posted as a comment. It supports my contention (made many times, both publicly & in private) about Slam poetry being generally more concerned with performance than poetry (afterall, slam poets are after the "10"). Essence's poem shows that poetry that speaks to us is in the "writin'" rather than the "recitin'" -- it is content that makes a poem, not strutin' style, preening & prancing -- this poem succeeds on the page, without a performer, & I hazard a guess it can be read badly & still get its message across -- it is poetry, not performance.

It’s Not Just Words!!!

What would you do if you craved The Spoken Word in such a way your kinetic energy sent the man next door your lines first?
What would you do if you saw a poet of character on stage reading from papers unrehearsed?
I can’t stand being considered angry because I recite how the economy haunts my daydreams.
It’s making me very sick to know a frog leaping across the community pond carries more ink… then the weekend of corruptions, uncovered prostitution rings of salacious scandals –
Such as the attorney general a. k. a Client #9
Why not collect your lustful verbiage and pussyfoot it into a chap book (not to be publicize)
Why come to an open mic to express your sexual fantasies and desires about how your manhood is going to grow mysteriously during your three minutes of shame, it’s no different than having to coexist with a pedophile residing a mile away
What would you do if the spoken word replaced rap & heavy metal, conquered the air waves like homegrown terrorist… ignored until mass transit lines sees fatalities worst than Mortal combat 1, 2, or 3,
Worst then the stories you hear of Hiroshima, more poverty stricken then the current recessed economy until…until…we see what happens next??
What happens if New Orleans, the storm of Hurricane Katrina became a bi-polar virus and wiped out Minnesota, Texas and certain regions in Ohio, how much will congress debate the stipends allotted?
What will the scene be considered then…survivors (not Looters), victims needing to be saved, rescued, rescued from the Mary’s, the Uncle Sam’s, & the Sister Jane’s.
And…Making me sick is becoming more of a contagious thang cause’ everywhere I go there’s a poet I want to take in the backroom with a thesaurus dictionary, notebook, karaoke machine, and throw away the key until the paper shoots from under the door and
The Spoken Word piece was belted across the southern bell states, the republican valleys
He would say that children are furnaces and deserves to be serviced daily
He would perform to peak sleeping interest out of the weak
He had commanded an audience without even being seen!!!
Because it’s those words which matter, words that travel like Red, white and blue blood across the desert sands…
Words are inside classrooms of 4th graders in April, during National Poetry Month,
It’s the evening internet blogs military moms have become so familiar with.
Remember words are comforting, an eye opener...
Lyrics have meaning...
So the next time you have only three minutes to shine
Let it rise, let it rise like the Exxon Mobil shell marts
Speak out loud about something cause….

It’s NOT JUST WORDS…

The Spoken Words
Of 5-03-08
The Poet Essence©


P.S. For a poet with content & style check out Alix Olson at the WAMC studio on Central Ave. on May 30.

8 comments:

miriamjoyce said...

I think it's both. Clearly there are a lot of "slam" poets who have flash and little substance, and who fall into annoyingly habitual performance styles.

But I am just as bothered, frankly, by "page" poets who don't think about performance at all. If you're going to go to an open mic and read your poem out loud then you have entered the realm of performance. This doesn't mean you have to memorize and strut your stuff like an actor, but it does mean you might want to think about enunciating, not collapse into a grating singsong/monotone, look up from your page every now and then. I find that paying attention to these things, and to audience reaction, can teach you how to make your poem better in terms of the written craft as well.

One of the good things about slam is that is has introduced the idea that the audience matters, even if it uses a goofy, arbitrary device to do that. (If the audience doesn't matter to your writing, that's cool too. But then don't share it with an audience.)

Now if all poets would try to remember that, imagine the wonders we could create.

--Miriam Axel-Lute
www.mjoy.org

Dan said...

Slam is a game that poets play. It's also a great vehicle for emerging artists to get exposed. Every year I've gone to the National College Poetry Slam I've seen some poets that have blown my mind, and I've seen people resort to the same tired gimmicks. I've seen poems that are so bad they're funny. I've seen undeserving winners, and probably more undeserving losers. Sometimes the judges give tens to the most unoriginal gimmicks and offer their lowest scores to the truly creative works that simply went over their heads. I think it's important to realize that slam includes all of these poets; the amazing, the terrible, and all that fall in between. The scores won't always speak for good poetry, but more often than not they do. In what I’ve seen, gimmicks don’t withstand the test of time. If you aren’t a strong writer to begin with, you can make some headway but you’re bound to hit dead ends. The poets who speak words of substance inevitably outlast the ones that don’t.

And so goes this ridiculous game we play.
-Dan Stalter

Anonymous said...

One can always depend on Miriam sidestepping the issue and blathering on about her own agendas in her famously self righteous critical way.

She did the same thing to me ridiculing my "old ways" about gay people being treated different than straight people.

Imagine something as silly as gay people being treated different than straight people. Imagine gay people having a different culture and experience.

Miriam thought it was all so silly. She was on her high horse writing a ridiculing article inspired by my very real experience.

she writes for newspapers, apparently she doesn't read them.

"15 year old boy killed for being openly gay".

that was last month. HELLO HELLO.

du-uh.

I know you're above it all in your very modern, very sophisticated dual marriage with your husband and wife, but really, read the newspaper once in a while.

You and your husband, and your wife might get your ass kicked by gay bashing thugs on the NYC subway while you're self righteously ridiculing gay people's imagined discrimination and different experience.

"We're really all the same really, if only the peasants realized it"

how droll Miriam, how droll.

Dan and the Poet Essence were talking about good performance hiding lousy wordsmithing at times.

lets stick to the subject five minutes can we.

tv

Anonymous said...

Dan Stalter's comment is outstanding. At open mics, a good performer always adds to the performance.

Dan is right. Good words separate the good performers who will be remembered from the good performers with bad words who will not be remembered.

I go to a lot of open mics. What I run into with the people who memorize their words is they tend to talk too fast, so you miss some of it.

My only loving suggestion is to slow down. I'm always impressed when people memorize their work.

Fantastic.

A local open mic-er, W.D. Clarke does most of his work from memory. He's a model of eye contact, diction, rhyme, and timing.

-tv

Anonymous said...

from Therese--I agree with Miriam when she says "I think it's both." One aspect of the words in poetry is their meaning (what some might call the "substance' of words). But another (and some might say equally or even more important) aspect of words in poetry is their sound. I have heard two accomplished slam poets at Caffe Lena. I don't remember the precise words they used (meaning), but I remember their astonishing talent for delivering the sound of words: syllable enunciation, pitch, pacing, volume, phrasing, etc. So certainly I admire a slam poet's "recitin." And when I read Essence's poem on the page, I can admire the substance, too, the "writin", but I do really miss hearing and seeing her perform that same poem.

Anonymous said...

from Therese--For what it's worth, I share this story because of some of the comments made above, and because I would regret to lose either "tv" or Miriam from our poetry community. Once a few months back, I lashed out a poetry colleague (Dan, you wouldn't happen to remember who that was, would you?). I went way over the top with some acid remarks, partly out of an unbecoming righteousness (I was guilty myself of what I was upset about), partly out of a bit of envy. But I felt awful afterwards, really really awful. I apologized and I hope that relationships are now mended. So that's my story. I hope to see "tv" or Miriam tonight at Caffe Lena. I look forward to hearing you both read your poems.

Anonymous said...

2 of the worst poetry readings I ever were Robert Creely and John Ashbury. Creely kept on looking at his watch. He acted like he was working in a coal mine instead of giving a poetry reading in an acedemic institution. Ashbury had no stage presence at all which didn't bother many of the people like me who came to Page Hall to hear Kurt Vonnegut read (expound was more like it!). My point is that good poets can give bad readings. As much as I'm not a fan of either poet, I certainly think that they are good poets. Perhaps it's not all in the recitin'. Don Levy

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