|Poets Konstantyn Kuzminsky and Hedwig Gorski, originator of the term "performance poetry."|
Continuing on from last week's post, which featured videos of Canadian poet and performer, Shane Koyczan, today I'm delving deeper into the world of spoken word poetry. Performance poetry and the rising popularity of poetry slams have intrigued me for some time, but I've finally figured out what I'd like to do with that interest. I'd like to start a performance poetry club at my daughter's school. I haven't yet approached the teachers or administrators about it, but it's the kind of school that tends to be open to such things. And from there who knows where it might lead?
One reason I'm enthusiastic about the idea is because it takes me full circle, back to my college days when I was known to mix things up a bit, artistically speaking. Back then we called it "avant-garde" or "experimental" theater, or sometimes "performance art." For me, it was what came naturally. Need a vocally choreographed version of John Donne's "Death Be Not Proud"? Sure. How about a contemporary Garden of Eden dance performance combined with the first scene of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi? You bet. Or maybe you fancy a cutting edge version of the German Expressionist play Murderer the Women's Hope, by Oskar Kokoschka? Heck, yeah.
I was such a sweet girl back then... but I digress.
The other reason performance poetry is a natural fit for me is because of my more recent experience as a Girl Scout troop leader. (I know, could this post get more random? Stay with me....) I became a Girl Scout leader because I wanted to help girls build self-esteem, self-confidence, and find their own unique voices. Though my troop dissipated after three years, the girls moving on to different middle schools and other interests, my desire to help young people find value in who they are and what they have to say has not strayed. For me, the delicious mixture of performance, poetry, and self-expression seems an appropriate next step.
And, boy, do young people have some incredible things to say!
Here is Lily Myers at CUPSI (College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational) 2013, with "Shrinking Woman":
And here is Ethan Metzger in the first annual Bronx Youth Poetry Slam (May 2013), with "Brainwashing":
How hard can it be to become a spoken word artist anyway? According to Gayle Danley, it's merely a five step process of transformation. There's a wonderful motivational TED Talk about spoken word poetry by Sarah Kay, performance poet and founder of Project VOICE, an organization that uses spoken word poetry as a literacy and empowerment tool. And, if still in doubt, I can always turn to these five practical tips for poetry performance from one of my favorite Poetry Friday contributors, Renée LaTulippe. (By the way, Renée will be my special guest in Limerick Alley this coming Tuesday, so stay tuned!)
But what have I missed? What I'd really like to know from you-- teachers, poets, and word lovers, all-- do you have any advice as I prepare to embark upon this new adventure?
For a poetic adventure of your own, look no further than the Poetry Friday roundup, hosted today by Tara at A Teaching Life. Inspiration abounds!