Contradicting contradictions

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.

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2 Responses to “Contradicting contradictions”

  1. Julia Ruane says:

    Completely forgot the blog was closed. #notforagrade #justforlove

  2. Julia Ruane says:

    Hmmm Molly, I see you. I agree with you that it’s one thing to dismiss spoken word as a whole as a tantrum and another thing to dismiss Staceyann Chin for the same reason. But… it’s important to keep in mind that people are reacting to the comment made in class, and that comment was about Staceyann Chin, not a critique on the movement.

    Also, I want to clarify my “angry black woman” comment. I didn’t mean to argue that Staceyann Chin was satirizing/caricaturing that (although I’ll think more about that idea and get back to you!) Instead, I wanted to point out that our society gives us easy ways to dismiss this work, and I wanted to challenge discussion of Staceyann Chin to acknowledge that and critique her work in productive ways.

    I didn’t think about contrasting our class reaction to the Baraka poem, so I’m glad you brought that up. The two poems are working on their audience in very different ways. Here’s my analogy: Baraka’s poem is like a single drip of water on your forehead every few seconds for hours on end. Chin’s was a fire hose in your face for a few minutes.

    Also, do you think that sax player would agree to accompany our final recitations next week? I’m seriously thinking about ways to find him. Craigslist missed connections???

    Here’s more of Staceyann Chin, because I’m obsessed: