Posts Tagged ‘Beats and Bops’

Stand-up, Slam-down

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Don’t you just love when things line up in your life? I do, and today, it happened!

For the past two weeks, I’ve forgone my usual lunch break to attend the Anthropology Department’s Senior Thesis Presentations from 11-11:50 every Monday/Wednesday/Friday. My favorite of today’s lecture had to do with the way “black humor” is used as a form of political resistance against the day-to-day stereotypes made about people of color. My pant-suited classmate argued that Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock are perhaps the best examples of this in action.

After showing clips from the above videos, Mandy asked the audience: Do you think this is effective in changing racial stereotypes? Those who spoke up agreed that Chapelle and Rock’s stand-up acts presented a double-edged sword: On one hand, they exposed just how ridiculous the popular assumptions that comprise racial stereotypes are. On the other, the giggly conversational delivery by each comic, created a window for listeners to take their statements less seriously (than perhaps they ought to) and/or laugh, then move on. What was missing from the performance was the incentive to change their behavior, and do so with a sense of urgency.

Slam Poetry seems to be the new-improved model of poltically-charged stand-up. Sure audience members involuntarily laugh at Staceyann Chin’s one liners:

“she tells me how she was a raving beauty in the sixties
how she could have had any man she wanted
but she chose the one least likely to succeed
and that’s why when the son of a bitch died
she had to move into this place
because it was government subsidized.”


“Will I still be lesbian then
or will the church or family finally convince me
to marry some man with a smaller dick
than the one my woman uses to afford me
violent and multiple orgasms”

But she isn’t laughing. Her humorless delivery makes a statement that no one can misinterpret. In the end we are downright scared of her (or at least I was).

What do you think?

I’m a line! I’ll do WHATEVER I wanna do!!

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Lines do what they want to do?

  • Focus of process and form
  • Not on depth
  • Form grows out of the content

Do you agree or disagree?

Emerson’s work often requires that we trace etymologies?

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Do you think it’s necessary in bettering or understanding of the poetry itself? (not only with her work) but with poets in general?

Greetings from San Francisco

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

For Spring Break, I am in San Francisco visiting with my Mom, who moved here about a year ago. Before I get all braggy about how BEAUTIFUL this city is, I need to come clean about a couple of things. First I should admit that I threw an enormously irrational temper tantrum when I found out she was moving here because HOW COULD SHE LEAVE ME ON THE EAST COAST ALONE? And second, I spent a sizable amount of my first visit to the Bay area wrapped in a blanket on the couch in a state of panic because HOW WAS SHE GOING TO SURVIVE WITHOUT ME ON THE WEST COAST? Luckily my strange anxieties have dissipated (unlike the ever-lingering fog) and I have come to realize how freakin’ cool this city is and how much cooler my Mom is for moving here.

Today was a long day- we walked for miles along the Embarcadero and accidently drove over the Golden Gate Bridge on the way back to our apartment (which just so happens to be on the opposite side of the city). I also had a nerd-attack and forced my family to stop by City Lights bookstore. It’s on the corner of this great street that borders Chinatown and Little Italy. Inside there are three flights of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with some of the most famous and obscure books, all meshed together. The third floor was devoted solely to poetry books and was where I lingered for a little too long. I snapped some photographs for your viewing pleasure. Check it:

photo 1


photo 2

photo 4

I hope you are all enjoying your time off as much as I am. Ps- do I get extra credit for posting over Break??



Incidentally, if you were going home early tomorrow…

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

…what kind of sweet smackerel would you miss partaking in the MOST,cookies or brownies?

With that, see you ALL tomorrow! 😉

PS- This is a sacrifice, you realize: using an oven while studying Plath seems vaguely barbaric to me…


Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

In the reading above, he drops the lines “My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right./I won’t say the lord’s prayer.”

This is a transcript of the reading, and according to Ginsberg, the poem he reads in the above video was “unfinished.” Significantly, the last line remains, as does most of the first half. The audience laughs and applauds throughout the reading. So interesting how the same combination of words changes meaning so drastically depending on tone and context.

The moments in the text where Ginsberg aligns himself with America fascinate me… “America after all it is you and I who are perfect and not the world” and “It occurs to me that I am America.” Of course, Ginsberg fills the poem with violent rejections of America as well (“Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb”) and defiance (“I’m not sorry”). As Catherine pointed out in class, Ginsberg carefully implicates himself in the problems and faults of America, which makes his criticisms more powerful. His ending line, “I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel” indicates that whether America wants him or not, Ginsberg will persist.

Best Ginsberg Poem.

Monday, February 4th, 2013

A Desolation

Now mind is clear
as a cloudless sky.
Time then to make a
home in wilderness.

What have I done but
wander with my eyes
in the trees? So I
will build: wife,
family, and seek
for neighbors.

Or I
perish of lonesomeness
or want of food or
lightning or the bear
(must tame the hart
and wear the bear).

And maybe make an image
of my wandering, a little
image—shrine by the
roadside to signify
to traveler that I live
here in the wilderness
awake and at home.


I absolutely love this poem. The idea that we want things we shouldn’t, that we can be lonely and still be at home, going against the grain. I love the idea of wilderness, I always tie that image into my own longings and desires, like the wilderness is a reflection of my own heart, or it is synonymous of my heart. It makes me less afraid, less tied to what I should do and more inclined to follow myself. And I think that is one of the definitions of poetry, that it encourages you to be less afraid of being who you are. Ugh, I have so many feelings about this poem. I love Ginsberg’s poetry. The only question I have about this poem is the part about the bear-what does Ginsberg mean? But I kind of don’t want to know… I like the ambiguity. But I want to know what you guys think!

Yummies: I will be calling them “Beat Bites”

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Who likes almonds?

Who likes cranberries?

Who likes/loves/worships/adores/fantasizes about/freaks out in the trees over the beats??

GET EXCITED. I am attempting culinary things… 🙂

Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Beat America

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Taking another glance specifically at the Beat poetry of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, we see an embodiment of Beat culture. He so perfectly represents the ideals of the Beat lifestyle and beliefs. But, let’s take a look first at his poem, “In Goya’s Scenes, We Seem to See”. He mentions a “suffering humanity”, and he puts quotes around this descriptive term noting it is an earned title which was given to these people represented in Franciso de Goya’s paintings. His paintings capture the very intense, horrific moments when these people, according to Ferlinghetti, officially became the “suffering humanity”. Here we have what is perhaps Goya’s most famous painting, titled The Third of May, 1808.

third of may

Yet, Ferlinghetti continues to mention in his poem that these people, the subjects of Goya’s paintings, still exist as the people of his generation. He says they are “ranged along the roads...” and that, “They are the same people/only further from home/on freeways fifty lanes wide/on a concrete continent/spaced with bland billboards/illustrating imbecile illusions of happiness.” In the final lines of this poem, the reader sees that Ferlinghetti is talking about the development of highway America, the disillusioned American dream, with his descriptions of “painted cars” and “engines that devour America“.

This parallels closely Jack Kerouac’s Beat novel, On The Road, the main character of which, Sal Paradise, is based on Kerouac himself. The premises of the novel is the experiences of a group of friends who “restlessly wander” the continent for a total period of seven years on a complicated quest that certainly cannot be narrowed down to one thing. It is almost a response Ferlinghetti’s poem has to this kind of disillusioned pursuit of paradise/happiness along the carefree highway. He claims that these are the same “sufferers of humanity”, in a new era. It’s a question that Lawrence keeps the reader asking, “Is this the drug on which American citizens are strung out?”

“Dog” is the second Ferlinghetti poem which perfectly embodies what it meant to be beat. A reading of the first lines in the poem, shows the value of how poetry can be found in and inspired by simplicity, too; poetry found in the simple perspectives of a stray dog. This poem contains a pinch of political taste with references to Congressman Doyle, and the dog’s relationship to him. And there is a turning point in line 36, where the poem begins to personify the dog’s thoughts, his conscience. He now has intellectual feelings. It is at this point, when the dog finds his voice, that the entire rest of the poem illustrates with the most perfectly beautiful analogy, the Beatnik experience. If On the Road was the novel which defined that generation, this Beat form of poetry, does the same. It was right there, in line 41, all the way through the very end of the poem, where I found myself experiencing the famous “YES! I have got IT!” moment in On the Road when Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady) and Sal Paradise (Kerouac) were talking and talking for hours upon hours in the back of the car on on their way out of San Francisco, or as they called it, Frisco. Though, they were talking about their experiences they had the night before in a bar listening to Jazz, this poem in a way does the same thing: the different sounds and notes and ideas conveyed, lines that have a whimsically spontaneous feel, but are the result of so much time dedicated and practice, playful, thoughtful practice, in which the musician (in this case poet) and the listener/reader all experience that moment Moriarity described as “IT!”


Beats & Bop :)

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

Okay, so Nico and I took Doug Gately’s “History of Jazz” class last year, and we got to learn alllllll about Bebop and its effects on American society/music as a whole. Like the poetry of/by the Beats, many Americans did not like or even necessarily understand the new form of jazz, and often rejected it in favor of more palatable/danceable Big-Band or R&B music. However, though marginalized, the Boppers (like the Beats) had a lasting influence on the art form, and their music appealed to other “elite” artists as well. Hence, the Beat poets were more open to the Bebop style than the average American listener.

Here’s a classic by Charlie “Bird” Parker, “Koko.” It’s pretty crazy. Enjoy! :)(For real though, try to count out the rhythm…CRAZY.)

Ko-Ko-Charlie Parker