Here’s another attempt at a suggestion, even though it looks more like “Another Reading Assignment from Professor River” (heavy sigh, look of dejection)
Introduction to the two books:
The Spoken Word Revolution(slam, hip hop & the poetry of a new generation), edited by Mark Eleveld, Sourcebooks MediaFusion, Napierville, Illinois, 2003
The Spoken Word Revolution Redux, edited by Mark Eleveld, Sourcebooks Media Fusion, Napierville, Illinois, 2007
Recently I have shared with readers of FWG an essay from The Spoken Word Revolution Redux. I would like to share more essays and excerpts from the two books listed above, but first let me explain what these books are about.
Many of you with an interest in poetry are aware of the events known as poetry slams. The two books of The Spoken Word Revolution are about the history of poetry slams, performance poetry, hip hop, and some other alternative ways in which poetry is publicly presented in recent times. Both books of which I speak come with a CD that has some of the poems contained in the books read by their authors.
The first book, The Spoken Word Revolution, published in 2003, contains six chapters. The prologue to the book is an introduction to poet Marc Smith, recognized as the key figure in the founding of slam poetry. There is next an essay from the prominent American poet Billy Collins, which I will share with you in my next DW journal post. The first chapter has an essay about twentieth century events such as the establishment of Poetry magazine, the New Critics, and the Beat poets, and is followed by thirteen poems. Chapter two introduces us to Hip Hop, chapter three is about Performance poetry, and chapter four is about Competitive poetry and this contains an essay appropriately entitled Poetic Pugilism.
Chapter five bring us to the Slam poetry and contains six essays, the first one by Marc Smith. Finally, chapter six introduces us to the role of poetry among teen age students and young adults. Groups of slam and performance poetry have been introduced in schools and communities all over America.
The Spoken Word Revolution Redux, published in 2007, continues the energy found in the first book, and expands on the developments in slam poetry. It begins with an introductory essay by prominent poet Ted Kooser. Part One includes the category “women take the slam”. Part Two is “Legacy: poetic influence” and includes five essays. Part Three is “Musicians meeting poets/music meeting poetry”, and Part Four is “Slam poetry”.
Part Five is “the spoken world: poetry abroad” and contains thirteen poems from poets outside the U.S. Part Six is “the young and spoken: youth poetry”, and finally Part Seven is “a hip-hop poetica”, containing three essays and twenty-eight poems.
In the concluding epilogue, poet and writer Victor D. Infante writes, “The success of spoken word came from its appeal to nontraditional poetry audiences, people looking for something beyond the “poetry establishment” . . . These are soul-searching times, demanding of maverick poets that they speak to the issues of the day, not to big houses in the country. . . . As it stands, slam holds a great well of untapped potential. . . One hopes that the poets would remain the same, screaming at darkness whether anyone listens or not…”