The Spoken Word Revolution

The Spoken Word Revolution

Slam, Hip-hop, & the Poetry of A New Generation

Book Plus CD - 2003 | 1st ed.
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Baker & Taylor
Describes how contemporary poetry intended to be spoken out loud has brought about a revitalization of interest in poetry, and presents works by more than forty leading poets.

Publisher: Naperville, Ill. : Sourcebooks MediaFusion, c2003.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9781402200373
1402200374
Characteristics: xiii, 241 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. + 1 Audio CD (4 3/4 in.)
Additional Contributors: Eleveld, Mark
Smith, Marc Kelly

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scribby
Jul 30, 2018

In the first place, not all of these poems work on the printed page; some merely seem like ramblings from a diary. …Hence the CD of the poets themselves reciting (they put too much energy in it to be “reading” in the usual sense); the CD also covers a lot of the articles in the book and resembles a podcast more than anything.

Now, for the poems that work best (for me). Billy Collins’ “Introduction to Poetry”, situated at the beginning of this anthology, makes the case that the best way to analyze a poem is to feel it, not to “tie it to a chair and torture the confession out of it”. Marvin Bell’s “To Dorothy” is a love poem without any clichés or sentiments. Regie Gibson’s “funknawlegy (a never ending quest)” laments the impossibility of trying to capture all there is about a style of music in words, but negates that impossibility when read aloud: it carries the rhythm (and in places, even the cadence) of funk music – and comments on a universe of ideas that go along with it. Tara Betts’ “Rock and Roll be a Black Woman” treats rock and roll music (here I imagine it in its early, 1950’s iteration) in much the same way, though visualizes it as a character in a drama. Di Renegade’s “48 hours after you left” uses metaphors for sadness – some of them startling and very beautiful. Todd Alcott’s “Television” satires the ever-presence of the Great Screen.

There are too many more to list all of them (lest this review be longer than the book itself). I’ll mention two more that caught my interest before I wrap up: two prose-poems, in fact almost short stories. One is about Edgar Allen Poe and Sam Colleridge and a car, comparing respective burdens. The other is about the poet’s mother, “learning English” to lose her accent and thus losing her verbal spontaneity and creativity as well.

A complaint: many of the text portions of the book extol the virtues of one Marc Smith, supposed inventor of the Poetry Slam. A glance at the cover of the book shows that he "advised" the book. Only a couple of the poems are his, however, so maybe this shameless self-promotion can be overlooked.

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