That’s a Wrap

April 23rd, 2013

Some notes for the final stretch:

  • I will hold regular office hours this Thursday, 11-12.  On Friday, my office hour will be moved from late afternoon to 10-11 because of Kemp Symposium.
  • This blog will CLOSE for graded business on Saturday, April 27, at midnight.
  • You should check the blog before our final exam slot (Wednesday, May 1, 12-2:30) in case there are any announcements.
  • The final recitations/celebrations will be held in the Parlor of the Mansion.  Yummies are welcome.
  • Apparently the syllabus says that at the final exam you must recite a poem from the Norton anthology that is not on our syllabus.  ACK.  I blew that.  You may recite at least 14 contiguous lines from any poem of our primary authors or from the anthology.

In Response to “Contradicting Contradictions”

April 30th, 2013

Where was this passion all semester?! I feel as if spoken-word should be performed exactly the way each author performs it. I’m almost afraid to label it a performance. Speaking a poem rather than having to type it in print opens the door for emotions to be free. When I read Sylvia Plath and Amiri Baraka poetry I can see their passion in their words and punctuation on the page and attempt to read each piece as active as they may read it if they had the opportunity to let their emotions be wild and free on stage. I don’t think I know about the Staceyann Chin performance that you are talking about. To say that Staceyann is  “acting” like an angry black women is to judge and marginalize her performance, to remove Staceyann Chin from her piece, and to throw her into an archetype of an “angry black woman”: this is where I find the issue. I would say that Stacey Chin is being an angry Stacey Chin. The closed mindedness is when to categorize and lable wild free emotions to help you understand it. You basically put the wild free emotion back in a cage when you use “acting like an angry black woman” as a description of art.  I wanted to talk about the saxophone player that most likely looked forward to having the honor of playing along with Amiri Baraka.  However, I do feel that Amiri chose to have a white saxophonist to add to the message of the poem. The poem that we watch by Amiri Baraka broke the allowance of white people, in this country, to always be free from guilt. While they blame the colored people that live in this country (not just black people).  The class fell right back into what Amiri Baraka was trying to break.  The white man became the victim and Amiri Baraka was laughed at.  I wasn’t surprised. Consider Kanye West’s video with the white ballerinas (do u think those ballerina were unfortunate too) and the black people as civilized having dinner(Kanye west took it a step past black and white because even the black people wouldnt accept the women he brought to dinner because she was different and wanted to lable her as weird and strange because of their closed mindeness.) The same point was trying to be made by Amiri I would guess to have the white people do the work and perform for black people for once.  But if we go as far as to say that it was strategic by Amiri Baraka we already begin to criminalize him because we are saying that it was premeditated.  So Molly I must say that I do have a problem with you “nearly ripping your hair out when Amiri hooed like an owl.”  You did not understand the symbolic significance of the owl within the context of the poem so your closed mind could only laugh to set you free from your mental prison as Amiri Baraka successfully got under your skin and aggravated you. I’m sure there are more unfortunate saxophone players out there.  I was very disappointed how the class responded to Amiri Baraka’s poem how we weren’t as open minded as we act. Now look at Kanye West’s Video After we saw Amiri Baraka where will your brain take you.

Stress Be Gone

April 29th, 2013

If you’re going to lose your mind this week lose it somewhere beautiful.

Contradicting contradictions

April 27th, 2013

No one was more shocked than I was when Garrett opened his mouth for the second time all semester and dropped a bomb on the class, but I think before we all point fingers at him for being so closed minded we should try to consider this from another perspective. From what I’ve gathered, Garrett doesn’t seem to care for spoken word/slam poetry in general. His comment was not unique to Staceyann Chin. I believe he thinks that all spoken word/slam poetry has the tendency to become tantrum-like, so I think it is unfair to make accusations about his response being directly influenced by the speaker’s race and gender. Though these things should not be ignored, I don’t want to put words into anyone’s mouth either. I saw that Julia mentioned that Staceyann Chin is purposefully acting as the “angry black woman” caricature and if that’s the case, shouldn’t we think she is abrasive? Wouldn’t she want us to? Personally, I believe Staceyann Chin gave us a very raw and honest performance and I think that is why it was so shocking when Garrett outright dismissed it. However, no one had a problem with me nearly ripping my hair out when Amiri Baraka hoo-ed like an owl with the most unfortunate saxophone player alive. In the same vein, both poets were trying to get under the listeners skin, to aggravate them, to put them on edge. The saxophone was over the top and so were Staceyann Chin’s high knees.

Coincidence…I think so.

April 27th, 2013

I got overly interested in Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye. And let’s just say it gets odder. 

Slam poetry, Orientalism, and Harry Potter.

April 26th, 2013

“A Letter to JK Rowling” by Rachel Rostad

I found this while reading Racialicious . Of course, initially reading the headline made me so happy because I’m thinking, “Oh man, Harry Potter AND slam! Ballin’!”

Her delivery is crazy good, nothing too distinctly different from the other videos and performances we’ve seen but you do see her pause for applause. Unusual?

Also, fun fact: after learning about Orientalism, I do wonder whether or not J.K. Rowling was aware of

a. having little to no minority characters (with exceptions like the Patel twins and Cho Chang)

b. depicting a female Chinese character who is meant to contrast with Ginny to make Ginny seem stronger (re: a Chinese woman is supposed to be weaker than a white woman–systematic racism, anyone?)

c. Maybe if Rowling wasn’t aware of these choices, isn’t it still problematic?

Food for thought! Happy CoPo-ing!

Sermon / Spoken Word

April 25th, 2013


This is a snippet of one of my favorite spoken word pieces called crucifixion type love this was the only video that was a performance and not a production.


He doesn’t get “preachy” but he does incorporate religion into his piece.

Close Minded Perceptions of Poetry

April 25th, 2013

In light of our discussion over the last few days, I wanted to bring our attention to a statement that Nicco made about hearing a spoken word piece as a monologue  in a movie. I was talking to Julia the other day & I interpreted his statement as if he felt that the presentation of that particular poem was more of an act than that of a way of self expression.


I want to know if anyone else felt like that. Are& slam poets putting on an act?

Daily Dosage of Food for Thought

April 24th, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot about what Garret said in class Monday about not liking Staceyann Chin because she was over the top, too boisterous and over zealous.  So I started thinking about the ability of the poet to relate to the audience. And that got me thinking about the culture differences between her and many of us in the class. I am Nigerian and she is Jamaican, it’s not quite the same. I’m from the continent of Africa and she’s part of the Caribbean. Yet from her spoken word I felt that our cultures must have something in common. When we feel something we are loud. When we hurt we cry til another’s ear starts to bleed from the intensity. Funerals aren’t a quiet procession, people scream, cry, jump up five times then fall to the ground. We make our feelings known, we let the weight of what is around us over take us, consume us. It’s funny because I am sure I have Aunts who would say that Chin didn’t do enough. She didn’t jump high enough, shout loudly enough. In conclusion, it could be part of her heritage to emote like she did. Her poem was about not hiding who she was, in any sort of way but becoming more of who she is and becoming comfortable in her skin. I just wanted to make those points. Food for thought? And possibly that is why Garret couldn’t connect with her. Things aren’t done in such a way, around these parks. That is all.

John Rives Spoken Word

April 23rd, 2013

Hey all this guy is really great! I thought this performance is also really cool because he incorporates sign language into it. Enjoy!