Monday, April 19, 2010

Speaking of Spoken Word

 I picked up Seventh Octave a couple weeks ago because I missed Saul Williams and our only copy of SLAM is on VHS.  So I skimmed and read, first silently and then aloud.  Then, when I went to the bird feeders blog, she’d posted this great performance by Rives, and it was like sweet confirmation from the universe that I should speak to spoken word.  So, I will.  I’m circling back around to the oral tradition of poetry.  In the beginning, it was what pulled me in – I loved it, and I couldn’t wait to write something to share with anyone who would listen to me.  Then, a lot of people started listening, and def poetry jam happened and open mics and poetry slams were as frequent and far as the eye could see.  It was competitive and inauthentic, and I wanted no more parts of it, so I silenced myself.  I wanted to get stronger on the page; that’s where I focused.

In recent years, I’ve been to only a few events (as a spectator).  I’ve listened to various poets and writers belittle spoken poetry, like it’s fake – their very western sensibilities making light of words that fly up from mouths.  Is it because they cannot hold these words in their hands?  Is it because they cannot follow them? I don’t know.  What I do know is that when oral poetry is successful, when the likes of a Rives or Saul Williams or Talaam Acey or Suheir Hammad recites a poem, it is otherworldly.  What the written word does not give you is that third experience/interpretation – that thing in between the words and spaces and breaths and pauses and the clever use of a homonym and various forms of wordplay.  I am not diminishing the importance or impact of the written word, but it is, essentially, only two dimensions.  When oral poetry is done well, there is more than the transmission and reception of common communication.  The speaker and audience commune – you’re in a relationship from the opening line to the closing phrase.  And it is beautiful.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Content with my pace now...whatever, it's cool (#4)

“Time Traveler”

Ask me
how many times I have started over--
how many endings I’ve seen.
It’s not magic 
when it’s not a choice,
and reverse isn’t an option.

This is really short - too short, probably.  Also, I've heard Back to the Future referenced several times recently, I think that means I'm supposed to watch it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Stalling (and #3)...

What’s the hold up?  I am much more hesitant than I used to be about posting first drafts.  I think it’s because first drafts can really suck. So why would I, one who cares about words and the combination thereof, put first draft drivel out for all to see?  Maybe I spoke too soon about my participation in this year’s NPM challenge.  I’m trying to see it as a sign of growth, though – that I am becoming more discerning and honest and objective about my work – when I can read something newly written and say, “Wow, that’s bad.”

That being said, here's another one - probably not so great in its current form, but I'm not apologizing.

"The Missionaries Are Coming"

My soul isn’t lost
I know just where it is.
But perhaps I can help you find
what a pure smile looks like,
how to get along with very little
and God.
The God that you read about,
who only visits you on Sundays,
I will show you Him in the waters.
He whispers to me on walks to the market.
He is keeping my grandmother alive
till she’s taught me all I need to know.
God is with everyone here—
maybe it’s because our houses
have no windows and we keep our doors open.
He can come and go as He pleases.
In return, He sustains us
by your visits, between your visits and long after you've gone.
So, welcome, nice to see you again.
But my soul isn’t lost
I know right where it is.

Monday, April 05, 2010

NPM Day 5, Poem #2

“Mouthful of Cotton”

Puffy stuffing
blossoms from my teeth
gums made of dirt
Can’t scream
can’t swallow
can’t even bite my own tongue
Fibers tickle my throat
until saliva makes them soft
Then the wad makes its way down
and rests in my belly
I scoop out with my fingers
any bits left behind--
quickly now
Before it begins
to grow again

Slow start?

eating more words than i'm writing, so far this month. :::sigh:::

Thursday, April 01, 2010

It Begins - NPM Day 1


Chicken pox
Bike races gone bad
Facing bullies
Sibling rivalries
Team sports
Iron accidents (the clothing kind, the curling kind)
Cooking (there’s still enough thumb left for a print)
Gaining again
and Roland.

National Poetry Month Is Upon Us

It is with excitement and anxiety that I embark on another NPM challenge - one [draft of a] poem per day for the entire month of April.  The rules I'm giving myself: any form, any content, no previously written poems.  In sweet anticipation of the muses and geniuses that I pray will taunt me this month (and for always), I'm drawn to this TED conference talk given by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love.  Her delivery is very good, as is her content.  My favorite part is her retelling of poet, Ruth Stone's narrative of "catching" a poem - oh to have the Juju come down on me like that.  OlĂ©!