So I said that I was going to bring you a couple of Slam/Spoken Word pieces. Here is the second. There were mixed reviews on Eric Darby’s piece, particularly because of the differences between his style and the traditional way that poems are read out loud. But one of my themes here of late has been that of bringing poetry back to the masses, getting it out of the classroom and back into bars and clubs, onto the street, and hopefully being a significant part of people’s lives. One could argue that the the Slam/Spoken word movement has made a lot of headway doing just that. And in the case of Eric’s poem, the metaphor, the rhythm, the magic were all there as well.
Sometimes we get scared of being too personal, or too political, even though if we were honest, instead of careful, we might agree with a basic tenant of the feminist movement which states that the personal is political. Not everyone writes about these topics, but I cannot tell you how often I am disappointed to find a talented writer who avoids controversy in hopes of popularity, trying to play it safe.
Andrea Gibson was the winner of the 2008 Women of the World Poetry Slam in Detroit. She won a DIY Poetry Book of the Year and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her first book, Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns. She speaks very forthrightly on on social issues–war, homosexuality, religion. Maybe you’ll think she is too raw, but I must admit, I find it refreshing. I warn you, the poem below is not appropriate for child audiences. But work like this has its place, and it hits something deep in the gut for many. From Whitman to Sharon Olds, both style and subject matter have stretched the boundaries of what poetry was thought to be. I don’t think we can afford to ignore that, not if the goal is for poetry to be among the common man woman again.
The song below the poem is from the group DeVotchka. It’s the song that inspired her piece. Though she does mention it in her introduction, I wanted to provide it for context, that and the fact that I just think it’s a damn good song.
- Andrea Gibson – “Birthday” (Keuka College – September 30, 2009) – YouTube (predominantlyinattentive.com)
- Andrea Gibson is Genius (shoutfire.wordpress.com)
- The pick of the world’s poetry in London (standard.co.uk)