Guest post by Alexandra Oliver:
I’ve been out of slam for ages, though I still keep my ear to the ground as to what events are taking place. I think slam is a viable means of generating interest in poetry, particularly amongst young people–by “young”, I mean people who are coming to poetry for the first time. I think it’s important though–no, essential!– for budding poets to not only draw from what they see in the performances of others, but also to look within themselves and obey their own impulses. Reading is so important; just because one wants to be a performance poet doesn’t necessarily mean one has to turn their nose up at the printed word. To quote Marilyn Nelson, the poet of today has the golden opportunity to “own the masters”, and to become the artist they were meant to become. Reading is actually what got me started on the road to performing poems; since my teens, I wanted to write like Edith Wharton, but poems came out in the place of prose. Go figure. I guess I was just wired that way.
It was a real privilege to be a part of SlamNation. I remember when Paul and his team came to interview me in my brother’s tiny apartment in New York’s East Village. Paul strikes me as a dynamo, a risk-taker in terms of his subject choices for films; I certainly think it took a lot of moxie to make our little movie, but the poetry world (to my mind, anyhow) is better off for it.
Check out an additional poem and interview with Alexandra here and here!