Posted by Paul Devlin:
This classic poem from my movie SlamNation helped Saul Williams get famous.
SlamNation is the seminal film of the slam poetry literary/performance movement. It played theatrically across the U.S. and on HBO and Starz. This performance of the poem also appeared in the PBS Special “I’ll Make Me a World.”
AND it served as an audition piece of sorts for Marc Levin’s movie Slam, which went on to win the top prizes at Sundance and Cannes. Mark was set on Bonz Malone for the lead in his movie. But Bonz was in jail at the time and Marc needed alternatives. Marc knew I was working on SlamNation and wanted to see Saul in action on screen. I showed him this piece, and sold him hard on Saul, especially since Saul was also a trained actor.
Marc started workshopping scenes with Saul and Sonja Sohn, the female lead. He asked me to edit together a demo of this rehearsal footage, my footage of Saul from SlamNation, plus some guerrilla footage they had of Saul in a prison when they brought him in as an intern on one of Marc’s documentary shoots. (Brilliant!) The demo convinced the warden at the prison in DC to provide the main location for the movie and helped the team secure funding.
The process of making Slam has been well-documented, including a book. But this part of the story has never been told. Always wanted to ask Marc about that…
We have over 150 complete poems, extras and anecdotes from SlamNation, so definitely visit often for more!