Thursday, April 22, 2010

Slam Poetry

Maybe this makes me uncool, but I am not such a big fan of slam poetry. I've seen a fair amount of it in my day and I guess what bothers me about it is its sameness.

Which is ironic because it's supposed to be all "out of the box" and subversive and hip and shit--poetry for a new generation or something--but if it's supposed to be so fresh, how come every fucking slam poet sounds about the same? Here's my impression of a slam poet (wildly gesturing):

There's a rainbow in my chest
and it shines like broken glass.
I extend my fingers like telephone wires
calling out to you
And the blood in these veins
Sings a silly sonata
for me and for you...

There are a limited range of hand motions slap poets do, mostly involving pounding on their chests, or twirling their arms and hands about and like pointing.

I recently saw a renowned slam poet perform and, frankly, I was bored. It was an experience similar to one I had when I rode trains around the USA and saw lots of graffiti and noticed that it all looked about the same wherever I was, whether Chicago or New York or Birmingham. And I thought--how ironic. It's supposed to be unique and it all looks about the same.

I remember, on that trip, visiting Oak Park, Illinois, the hometown of Ernest Hemingway and Frank Lloyd Wright, and learning about how those two guys, one a writer, the other an architect, smashed the box of Victorian style, invented something wholly new, uniquely American--Wright with his flat, prairie-style houses, and Hemingway with his simple, muscular, journalistic prose. And as I road the train back to my hotel in Chicago, passing miles of similar-looking graffiti, I wondered when graffiti artists will break the box.

It's like punk music and style. How, like in the 70s, punk was a wholly new thing. But now there are hordes of punk clones who can get their "subversive" shit at Hot Topic in the fucking Brea Mall. I wonder when punks will break the box.

So forgive me if I'm yawning and checking my watch during your slam poetry session. I'm waiting for something new.


  1. Banksy, "Exit Through The Gift Shop". Get there.