Comments: A spoken word or two – Where does ‘Performance’ Poetry stand?
There was a psychic moment in a reading once, when I heard someone thinking in a condescending tone, “Well that’s poetry too”. Their expression was all too transparent for my comfort. I imagine my poet posture had appeared during a sprawling appreciation of an organised ‘Published Poet’ reading, and I was transformed into a vividly present symbol of spoken word poetry, as distinct from the written. I was actually being stereotyped from my posture by the somewhat all too common Literati Elitist of poetic classism.
As if the spoken word were resident below fighting mindlessly somewhere in a hell realm, Dante’s ninth maybe, praying to Cuchullain and Tailtiu, Macha and Amergin whilst from above the glass floor peered the epitome of poetic integrity and purpose.
The difference is in the mind. Spoken Word performance Poet in the left corner, Written Word published Poet in the right. Then as they engage they both speak at the same time, failing to make any contact, and their words fuse into a poet thrice the size of either. The Written Spoken Word Published Performance poet emerges (with a bit of filmmaking perhaps or music on the side). The spectators run for the fire exits. The referee cowers beneath the judges’ table.
As Todd Swift (see link below) points out, being more or less of one or the other are just two aspects of any poet’s journey. So are we to commercialise mp3 poetry in order to get funding for the almost exclusively Spoken word poet? To get him or her the right dose of recognition? I think not. Most of the payment is in the giving of the poetry, in the engagement, in the fire of poetry … and what fire needs no fuel? Perhaps the spoken form is too fine to be appreciated enough.
The need to be published in order to get funding is akin to having to have a degree to speak English. At least more universities are accepting life experience in lieu of certain course credits for mature students … maybe this way of thinking will catch on more. Make paper transparent? Many of our praise poets, political poets, 21st century seanchaithe, satirists work almost entirely with writing for the Spoken Word. And is it Art? Expensive in it’s creation, profound in its influence, some just do it better with their mouths than with their literature.
When nepotism climbs into any of the Arts bodies we know what happens to the foundations. Three cheers for the impartial Arts Funders. Fair funding bodies encourage a fair society. How pc of me you may think. But i am PC – Poetically Confussed. And I plan to stay that way. What I love most about MCing is the diversity in Poetry; Form, Style, Content, Passion, Truth, Finesse, Engagement. The unique vision within every voice. Discrimination is only a ‘word’ after all … Calliope, I’ll have a good medium to rare one-hour reading, followed by an epic, a drop of unplugged ceol followed by a story, a good open-mic session and a dash of Slam for dessert.
More articles on the state of the Spoken Word today:
Todd Swift’s response to Maureen Gallagher:
HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE SLAM … here
Trish Casey’s article:
Slam On – Performance Poetry In Ireland … here
Desmond Swords’ response to Trish Casey … here
Kevin Higgins’ article:
HELPING IRISH POETRY BREAK OUT OF THE VICTORIAN AGE … here
James J McAuley’s response to Kevin Higgins … here
Miceál Kearney’s response to James J McAuley is in the comments section herein.
I hope you enjoy this blog. Any open-mic news is particularly welcome, and please add any poetry links you feel are worthwhile with your comments (and any of your original poetry).
This post includes interviews of guest poets by Jennifer Matthews. So far these include the following poets starting with the most recent (and more on the way!):
Anamaría Crowe Serrano
Dairena Ní Chinnéide
Gearoid Mac Lochlainn
Thanks Jen for all the quality work! (which is here)
Comments: Poetry and Miscellaneous. Please feel free to contribute.