Serving Up Spoken Word and a Chilled Fedora

April 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

I hadn’t been thinking about rhythm or Pakou’s latest post, but as I sat listening to some spoken word pieces tonight, I kept coming back to that idea. I’ve always been drawn to spoken word poetry. I find it compelling in the true sense of the word – something in me is moved to respond and what I respond to is the rhythm of the speaker, breathy or stuttering, soft or ranting. And if I get up and do something else, those rhythms still cling to my movements.

When I write, I hear rhythms before I hear anything else, before I know the actual words I will use, before I even know what it is I want to say:

To begin, a prepositional phrase coaxing you further in, the transition into noun verb adjective noun (ah! the meat of the sentence (or tofu if you’re a vegan reader)), one more dependent clause hovering nearby like darkness on a summer evening, and then the subtle el fin of punctuation.

So I share these poems because I’m still following their sound. Taylor Mali, in this beautifully animated (typographied?) piece by Ronnie Bruce, plays with the rhythm and inflections we’ve come to give our words, and by doing so, have sacrificed our convictions.

Bassey Ikpi, a Nigerian-born poet, speaks fast, but her articulation and presence is strong, her language tight and controlled in this apology to her unborn.

A poem, not in the style of spoken word, but read well by the writer Russell Edson, who knows where to pause and how to hold on to a consonant as we consider his words. As part of the Poetry Everywhere project, the animation was done by film students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Happy rhythm-and-poetry month.

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§ 2 Responses to Serving Up Spoken Word and a Chilled Fedora

  • Rachel says:

    Ah, Abi. I love this post. I loved the poems you posted. And I’ve always liked your poems for this very reason. (I saved all of your poems as well as Erin’s and Aryn’s from school. I still like reading them aloud now and again.) And I like hearing Max G. read his to us.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing.

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