Posts Tagged ‘Insightful? Not even a lil bit.’

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?

A preview to tomorrow’s slam poetry presentation.

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Def Poetry

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

I love def poetry and I’m so excited to hear it and learn about it in class. I watched the videos that Dr. Scanlon posted on the blog and my favorite was the one by Gina Loring, Somewhere There is a Poem. It is so cool how she intertwined history and touched on major historic events and people and it all flowed so well when she said it. I’m always amazed by how def poets speak their poems so well and so fluidly. My favorite part, well I have two. The first was when she sang the beginning of Amazing Grace-incorporating different spoken art styles into the reading is one of my favorite things and it really added to the poem, it gave it even more of a musical flare. I also loved how she used repetition to transition from one subject to the next and how it made her sound as if she was rapping. The poem flowed so so well and I loved her voice as she recited, the intonation and changing speed with which she spoke was beautiful. I found the written poem online and pasted the lyrics here because I loved them so much 🙂  This was so great!

Somewhere there is a poem
And I want to write this poem
I want to speak this poem
I want to feel this poem
I want to experience this poem
Cradle it in my arms
Feed it a good meal
And send it on its merry way

I want to sing this poem
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound”
Somewhere there is a poem screaming
Get up, stand up
Stand up for your rights
Human beings, human beings
Beings being so
Caught up in the tangible material surface
Or that they never actually feel
Their touch is liquid and grazes right through
But misses the core
This poem whispers to me
And rocks me to sleep
And tells me stories of indigenous people
Diseased and tricked and slaughtered
And made to be extinct
But this ain’t no pterodactyl
Or tyrannosaurus rex blood flowing through my veins

I am a Creek American Indian
I exist
I am an African
I am an old Jewish woman muttering prayers in Yiddish
As my name is replaced with a number on my arm
I am a little Japanese girl
Staring in horror
As my village is bombed and burnt to the ground
I was born in India, but not to the right caste
So regardless of what I accomplish
I will always be a peasant
I died in Mexico three feet from the border
Gunned down by evil troops
Who shoot for a living
Who sacrifice their souls for
The man-made boundaries of these Americas
Somewhere, there is a poem somewhere
Dozing in subway stations
And flying high on a 405
And taking the L to Brooklyn
The 15 to Vegas
And the Marter through Atlanta
And cruising down a dark street in Oakland is a poem

This poem comes from somewhere deep
Somewhere where the angels sleep
Where pixies dance and mermaids weep
Where hymns are hummed
So God will keep us all in mind on Judgment Day
This poem warns, but does not sway
For what you do is up to you
Where you go and who you know
If you close up, or if you grow

Somewhere there is a poem about the insanity
Of war, Hiroshima, Hiroshima
Hero, hero, war hero
Hero-, hero-, heroin is
Crack cocaine is
The systematic genocide of my people
Brown skin behind bars
Locked up behind bars
Trapped behind bars
And slaves behind bars
Kept in lines behind bars
Counted behind bars
Bars, there are more bars
Selling alcohol on a single reservation in Oklahoma
Than in all of Ventura county, county
Counting me in ‘cause I’m down for the revolution
Which may not be televised
And may not get radio play
But it will be told through poetry
‘Cause somewhere there is a poem

This poem speaks to me and draws me in
Like an amusement park to a kid
I want to freak this poem and dream this poem
And share it with y’all
Hold up, shhhhh
I just did

daM goD

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

During Monday’s discussion of “Looking a Mad Dog Dead in the Eyes,” Sarah’s comment about reading “Mad Dog” as an anagram blew my mind.

I believe the speaker is criticizing man’s relationship with God. Furthermore, I think the speaker is calling on man to take back control and suggests that man should assert his power over God.

I think this has to be a myth, or at least partially a myth, but growing up I was always told that there was a simple way to establish dominance with a dog (granted, I was terrified of dogs much of my young life so there’s a good chance this was a lie adults told me, thinking I might find it comforting). I was told that one must look a dog dead in the eyes and hold its gaze to assert power until the dog ultimately looks away.

I think it’s interesting to think that this poem is criticizing the way we have been trained to worship God and calling on us, instead, to train God…even if this all does sound a bit Mad.

Shadows & Ghosts

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Alright, Komunyakaa loves talking about shadows & ghosts (& he really loves ampersands- by the way).

“Gray-blue shadows lift/ shadows onto an oxcart.” (Starlight Scope Myopia 1-2)
“unaware our shadows have untied/ from us, wandered off/ & gotten lost.” (A Greenness Taller Than God 20-23)
“We’re men ready to be fused/ with gost pictures, trying” (Seeing in the Dark 14-15)
“with a platoon of shadows” (The Edge 7) also, not techinically a shadow/ghost, but still: “to the charred air, silhouettes of jets” (27)
“Ghosts share us with the past & future” (Jungle Surrender 1)
“Sometimes I wrestled their ghosts” (Short-timer’s Calendar 14)

& the list goes on…

I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make, but I guess I’m just wondering what you make of this repetition. Obviously, I can understand why ghosts & shadows would appear in a collection of poems about war, but I feel like Komunyakaa has to be more brilliant than this. Beyond lost souls what do you think these figures represent?

another burning question…

Garrett mentioned to me the other day that Vollmer used the ampersand exclusively and that he had meant to ask her about why she made this choice. Now, I can’t help but notice that Komunyakaa also uses the ampersand exclusively. I really want to know whether this was an editor’s choice or if this was the poet’s preference and their reasoning. What do you think?

Dead.

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Although I don’t usually like poetry about war or battles, Komunyakaa’s word choice and descriptions just made me dead in every one of his poems in the Dien Cai Dau (Vietnamese for I am crazy or you make me crazy)  section for tomorrow. I particularly loved “You and I are Disappearing”. I looked up Bjorn Hakansson (the one who said the title) and he was a really cool guy-he had underdeveloped arms due to a pill his mom took during pregnancy and went on to form a group that helps others in similar situations. I don’t know the context in which the quote was said, but I’m curious as to why Komunyakaa chose that as the title.  (http://archive.eurordis.org/article.php3?id_article=1783)

I’m just going to list a few of my favorite lines/phrses because I just loved “You and I are Disappearing  so much:

  • The cry I bring down from the hills/ belongs to a girl still burning/ inside my head.
  • We stand with our hands/ hanging at our sides
  • She burns like oil on water.
  • A tiger under a rainbow / at nightfall.
  • She burns like a shot glass of vodka.
  • She rises like dragonsmoke/ to my nostrils.

As someone else mentioned, the line breaks are superbly orchestrated, giving the poem extra punch and adding an extra layer of awesomeness. I am just blown away by the creativity that takes place to come up with lines like “A tiger under a rainbow / at nightfall” when describing the girl burning. Komunyakaa is a genius when it comes to word choice and descriptions and I can’t wait to go all fangirl when we talk about him in class tomorrow.

 

POETRY READING ON APRIL 4

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

UPDATE: PLEASE SIGN UP ON THIS GOOGLE DOC BY TODAY AT 4:30. IT’S OKAY IF YOU’RE LATE, BUT WE’D LOVE YA IF YOU WERE EARLY!

Or copy and paste the URL below:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KcRMPSYGGmvg9_LE-uKJdcOXugGom2ybdWZYMezOC4I/edit?usp=sharing

So far, we have 12 of you (including myself) interested in reading. Regardless of what you decide to read for Thursday Poems, please make sure you do not go above 2:30. It will not be fair to the rest of the participants. If you have any questions, please let me know or post ’em onto the Google doc!

Thank you

I BELIEVE IN YOU! 

MORE Judith Vollmer

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

http://http://fourthriver.chatham.edu/index.php/where-the-music-happens-an-interview-with-judith-vollmer

I was very impressed with Vollmer…so naturally I did a little stalking after class on Friday. If you didn’t get to ask all the questions you wanted to, then check out this interview! I found it on judithvollmer.com.

From “Memories and Thoughts on Adrienne Rich”

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Did you know Adrienne Rich passed away last week on the 27th in California? I did not. Writer Cathy Park Hong wrote one of the most beautiful memoriam pieces I have read yet for Poetry Foundation this past weekend.

While Hong discusses her own personal meeting with Rich filled with warmth and compelling conversation, she tackles the same question that Rich and even we grapple with as readers of poetry: “is poetry political?” Poetry may seem “flimsy” when discussing “war, class, sexism, racism, terror” and all the other social intersections that surround society. What Rich and Hong communicate, and what we saw Brooks trump, is that whether or not poetry seems useless, there is an “ethical responsibility” to be engage in a “historically charged moment to write it.” There is an “urgency” that writers and readers both usurp to resolve any uncertainty. The first step that seems to be taken is to read or write these poems.

Hong then discusses a “courage,” both public and private, that poets take when writing. Rich did examine this courage and use it if not to catalyze, then identify a revolution:

Then I turn to Adrienne Rich and her essays, her poems, become a call-to-arms, a reawakening of my fatigued consciousness: “We may feel bitterly how little our poems can do in the face of seemingly out of control technological power and seemingly limitless corporate greed, yet it has always been true that poetry can break isolation, show us to ourselves when we are outlawed or made invisible, remind us of beauty where no beauty seems possible, remind us kinship where all is represented as separation.”

A nice companion blog post to this would be Abbie‘s “Where’s the poetry in today’s Climate Movement?” from February. Here’s to you, Rich.

“You give it a royal touch when you read a poem. I think everyone does.”

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Anne Sexton reads “Menstruation at Forty,” scolds her dogs, introduces us to her husband, and comes off charming…is that the right word? Maybe I’m charmed at the wrong time.