Posts Tagged ‘if you need me i’ll be out by the trees freaking out about spondees’

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.”

OR

“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?

Spoken Word Videos for next week

Monday, April 15th, 2013

1.  For Monday:

Go to Def Poetry on channel musikslove (81 videos) and watch the following:

  • Black Ice, “Imagine” #16
  • Gina Loring, “Somewhere There Is a Poem” #19
  • Sunni Patterson, “We Made It” #76
  • Suheir Hammad, “First Writing Since” #77

Go to urbanrenewalprogram (80 videos) and watch the following:

  • Linton Kwesi Johnson, “If I was a top notch poet”
  • Staceyann Chin, “If only out of vanity”
  • Jessica Care Moore, “I’m a hip-hop cheerleader”
  • Erykah Badu, “Friends, fan, and artists”
  • Danny Hoch, “Corner Talk, September”
  • Amiri Baraka, “Why is we Americans”
  • Beau Sia, “Give me a chance”
  • Taylor Mali, “What teachers make”

2. For Wednesday:

Videos are student choice.  In Comments on this post, provide the name of the artist, the name of the poem, and the link (paste it in and it will go live when you post the comment).   RULES:

  • The poem must be recorded in a performance, and should NOT be a video production.
  • Each student may post only one video, so choose wisely!  It is NOT mandatory that you choose a poem.

Vollmer essay prompt is posted

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Two Views of a Cadaver Room

Sunday, March 17th, 2013
Brueghel's Triumph of Death

Brueghel’s Triumph of Death

brueghel detail

Triumph of Death detail

Response to Probably not substantive enough to be post-worthy, but…

Friday, March 8th, 2013

America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.-Who else but Ginsberg?(sickedwickedness)

I aim at this section of, America , because of Cobain and Plath’s “attractiveness.” Cobain’s music was attractive. Plath’s poetry was attractive. But “America” wants us to believe that their suicide was attractive because “America” wants us to think that “its machinery is too much for us.” The affect that drugs have on an artist and the artist’s mind state is very real.  The affect that fans have on the artist are very real because of all the pressure the artist is put under because of their fame and are almost looked at as a “saint” when in reality they are far from it because they are destroying the very beautiful bodies backstage that their fans fantasize.  Can we blame “America”? or Do we blame the artist?

 I totally respect them as mainstream idyllic figures because their form(their physical attractiveness) and their content (their poetry and music) should be respected we cannot argue with how handsome Cobain was or how pretty Plath was.  My opinion is that their ending was ugly.  Too many fans look to these people, I mean, idyllic symbols as more than human and become confused.  I am not confused about it because I’m sure these artists did not feel that they were as attractive as we thought they were.  Plath didn’t have enough education and Cobain took too many drugs to cope and what a slippery slope and you lose sight of Hope when your Dream has been accomplished and you can’t make it to the finish, is it too late too replenish the soul you chose to diminish?  No, it’s not too late. Life is a big Responsibility and the more you are given the more you are responsible for. What do I know? but “Rumor has it!!” ha ha ha

 However, you can’t argue with the beauty of an early death either because where I was raised, here in America, that’s what I was always reminded. And a few words from a brother of mine Kanye  Omari West in America (please don’t get caught up on the form and only try to see the content):

 “The block is at war, post dramatic stress, ran up outta pillz, rob dat CVS, niggas gettin bust over in Gods we trust, We believe in God butdo God believe in us?,if we believe enough will we ever get to know him, that lean got us dosin’ ,if we get there we the chosen, i been poppin shit for too long, but still reppin where I came from”-Kanye West

 “Dr. Martin Louis The King Jr. and imma never let the dream turn to Krueger’s”-Kanye West

I could write shorter sermons but when I get started I’m too lazy to stop.-Lincoln

 

 

I Heart Gwendolyn Brooks. Like Mad.

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

But do note this change in our schedule for FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22:

Brooks: “The Anniad” (37-49); “the children of the poor” #s 1 (52), 2 (53), 3 (53); Ginsberg short writing due.  Bring your anthologies to return to poets from Monday.

 

Ask Dr. Scansion (CoPo edition)

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Q:  Dear Dr. Scansion,

I am new to formal analysis of poetry and am anxiously wondering: what terms do I really need to know? Can you help me navigate this new period in my education?

Yours,

“Lady Lazarus”

A: Dear “Lady Lazarus,”

The terms of formal analysis and prosody are numerous, and some people may be comfortable taking on a more complex set, but for the most part you should have a vocabulary that includes the following:

1) basic accentual patterns: iamb, trochee, spondee, pyrrhic, anapest, and dactyl (Note: some people think that the pyrrhic doesn’t exist in English.  You will need to resist peer pressure and decide what seems true to you.  For my part, I believe.)

2) common metrical feet: trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, hexameter

3) common stanza names: couplet, triplet, quatrain, sestet, octave

4) useful ways to characterize sound patterns: rhyme, half- or slant-rhyme, assonance, consonance, dissonance, alliteration

5) terms that describe line/sentence formations: end-stopped, caesura, enjambment

You will also want to be comfortable with a handful of other terms, for example:  sonnet, sestina, blank verse, free verse.

Lady Lazarus, there are resources for people like you.  This site (is weird but) has a wealth of information about prosody and form, or you can turn to sites like the glossary on  for better for verse, which is less exhaustive but has clear definitions.  For better for verse also has an interactive feature that will let you practice scansion or study it for many poems. (Disclaimer: the site is much more devoted to the default iamb than Dr. Scansion, but it is a good resource nonetheless.)  In either case, don’t forget that reliable friends and grown-ups you trust can be helpful in working through these tough times.  Eventually you may even come to see formal and prosodic analysis as an important part of how you think and who you are.

All best wishes,

Dr. Scansion