Posts Tagged ‘#swagtag’

Slam poetry, Orientalism, and Harry Potter.

Friday, 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

Thursday, 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.

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

Still Looking for “The Lost Empire”

Friday, April 12th, 2013

I left class today feeling conflicted over our interpretation of Walcott’s Caribbean in “The Lost Empire”.

Now I have never been the Caribbean myself. However, I do sail, and that interest has thrust me into a community of those who spend winters there, maintaining boats whose owners are unwilling to both risk the damages of an east coast mooring or crew the vessel themselves. The result of this intimacy gives me an interesting perspective on the archipelago which Walcott describes to “look as if a continent fell and scattered into fragments” (lyric II, lines 2-3). This perspective is one which begs me argue against sentiments of the “small place produc[ing] nothing but beauty.”

The islands I perceive are home to a giant social george. That is, a gaping  chasm between rich and poor. The exact opposite of a “simplifying light” the author illustrates four lines from the bottom. Perhaps those who can afford it are “receiving vessels of each day’s grace”, but those who cannot seem to be receiving vessels of capitalist colonial fallout. Without an infrastructure to protect them from exploitation, the islands have become a bona fide waste basket for the overnight tourism boom. Pollution runs rampant under a disposable standard, and a people who may have once attempted to husband the albeit picturesque landscape are now plagued with Western growing pains.

It surprises me that Walcott doesn’t see this. Or that we are unable to trace an appropriate irony in his “content”. Lyrics I and II must be sewn together somehow. After centuries of haunting, “The Spectre of Empire” surely didn’t just pack up and leave….

…right?

images

“You and I Are Disappearing”

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Okay, I felt the need to rant because I am madly in love with this poem and Komunyakaa in general. I wish our discussion today could have continued because it is so interesting to me the different ways that this poem can be read! I love how some of the images of burning are fake or not literally burning, like dry ice, foxfire, and a shot of vodka. I also am swooning over the last line: “She burns like a burning bush driven by a godawful wind.” To me, this is Komunyakaa being cynical about the purpose of all of these innocent Vietnamese people having to die. Unlike Moses, who received a message from the burning bush and ultimately, the Ten Commandments, there was no distinct message in this girl’s death. He is commenting upon the fact that she burned but to what purpose? He portrays this frustration and confusion by calling the wind “godawful,” which is also a play on words considering that God spoke to Moses through the burning bush. Anyway, just a bit of ranting and obsession about this poem!

on your bed, a Helena Rubinstein smile.

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

In case any of you were wondering, here’s what Helena Rubinstein’s “smile” looks like

disclaimer: I don’t understand technology so a link will have to do…and honestly, I’m not sure if the link will even work.

 

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.

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! 

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.