SlamNation extra

SLAMNATION MINI DOC

Posted by Paul Devlin:
 
This outtake from SlamNation takes place at the Slammaster’s meeting at the Portland National Poetry Slam in 1996. These used to be completely democratic meetings, that anyone competing in the National Poetry Slam could participate and vote in.

The quality is rough and the original is lost, but this mini-doc captures a turning point in the poetry slam movement: the birth of the non-profit organization Poetry Slam Inc (PSi). The piece shows that the organization was born out of the fear that some big corporation would trademark the phrase “Poetry Slam” and block the poets from using it for their events. (The reality of copyright law is that “Poetry Slam” had already become part of the common language and could no longer be trademarked for performance poetry events. So the fear was unfounded, and no one, not even PSi, owns the phrase “Poetry Slam.”
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For those who have the context and know the players, this is a study of subtle power plays. Participating in the early slam poetry movement was a profound, close-up lesson in politics. The stakes may be lower, but I’m convinced the dynamics are similar to any government or big corporation.

This is the beginning of the end of what I found most fascinating about the ad-hoc national community of slam poetry – that grass-roots anarchy which managed to generate spectacular events like the National Poetry Slam. When Poetry Slam, Inc. became an official non-profit and started referring to by-laws instead of family at meetings like this, something magical about the movement was sacrificed.
 

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SlamNation: Jessica Care Moore - Behind the Scenes

Posted by Paul Devlin:

SlamNation producer Thom Poole shot this footage of Jessica Care Moore recording her album. These moments capture the beginnings of performance poetry branching out and “spoken word” becoming more recognizable as a commercial art form by the mainstream.

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SlamNation Outtake - Jim Fitzgerald coins the phrase Generation X

Posted by Paul Devlin:

My friend Louisa McCune introduced me to the talented literary editor, Jim Fitzgerald who was working at St. Martin’s Press when I was making SlamNation. In the movie, he gets into an interesting debate with poet Jessica Care Moore about the state of publishing and the literary merits of slam poetry. During the full interview, Jim had many great tales didn’t work in the final movie.

In this outtake, Jim tells the story of how he coined the phrase “Generation X.”

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SlamNation Extra - Spending a Morning With muMs

Guest post by Thomas Poole:

First of all it was an honor to videotape muMs in the neighborhood and home he grew up in. I had been working at the Nuyorcan Poets Café and had watched muMs work his poetic magic for years.  When Paul and I asked muMs to tape at his house he was a little hesitant. He made it clear that he didn’t let a great deal of people inside his personal life. This clip gives a little glimpse of muMs in his native and beloved Bronx.

One thing not shown in this clip (but is in the final movie SlamNation) was muMs telling how proud he was that his mother finally recognized him as a writer. He showed me pictures of his family, especially his father, a locksmith who was a first generation immigrant from the Caribbean islands, who never knew about his son’s literary accomplishments. Although, muMs was a highly rated football player destined to play in college on an athletic scholarship, he felt his father would have been just as proud about his writing achievements as his athletic ones. Back then, on stage, muMs portrayed himself as an urban guerilla style samari poet (even in this clip he is wearing solider like clothing) which served him well in getting acting roles in films like Bamboozle and the television series like Oz. However, this clip shows a more serene side of him even in the midst of him describing some unsavory aspects of his block. After that morning, I became more aware that the heart of his work is rooted in his devotion to his family and neighborhood.

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