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.