Saturday, March 13, 2010

More adventures in "How to REALLY be a poet!" courtesy of Alvin Lau.

Although Alvin Lau's article/exhortation has to do with slam poetry, it's applicable to nonslammers as well:

Two particular passages to point out:
1. Here's Lau at his nose-holding worst--"The biggest critique that needs to be given is going to be the most difficult to swallow: not all spoken word is poetry. Not everything read in a poetry slam is poetry. As Regie Gibson said at a Brave New Voices workshop, “most of what you hear in slam is not poetry, but short, rhythmic essays.” I couldn’t agree more. Here, the slam purists will throw up their arms in outrage and call me an elitist disconnected from slam’s roots. They will argue that to exclude any work from the boundaries of poetry is to sit in the same ivory tower slam originally was designed to demolish. But where do we draw the line? Do we really put Jamie Kilstein in the same genre as Rachel McKibbens? Is there any writing, condensed to 3-minutes, we will refuse to label as poetry? If we loosen our standards to include absolutely everything, with disregard to craft, then why do we even call it a poetry slam?"

2. And here's something a little more thoughtful--and with resonance for those on the MFA/prestige workshop trail feeling like they have to homogenize their work to please fellow poets/professors:
[Here Lau refers to why the slam poetry of 2000 and 2002 was better to him than current examples of the genre.]
People weren’t overly influenced by their surroundings—today, you can look at a lot of Denver poets and say “Oh, you sound like a Denver poet” – but look at old school poets like Daniel Roop and Al Letson from Atlanta, or Beau Sia and Celena Glenn from New York, or Dennis Kim and Kevin Coval from Chicago. All of these poets, living alongside other brilliant writers and performers, refused to heavily borrow from each other’s styles and be influenced by the dominant mode. They each had very clear voices and talents. Our current iWPS champion Amy Everhart, while talented, is a good example of a slammer who lacks inevitability, that is, you can’t look at her work and say “Oh, clearly Amy wrote this,” because much of the structure and imagery are borrowed from her region’s style, rather than a unique, crafted voice. We need to reject this, rather than elevate it to the top of our ranks."

No comments:

Post a Comment