First Readings - Michael Lee - “Letter to the Boy I Got High For His First Time”
“The difference between an addict and one who is drowning, is that the one who is drowning knows it.”
Another poem from our first readings series. A lot of poems you see have been rehearsed for months; have been performed and rewritten countless times. So we’re highlighting what only happens once: the first reading of a new poem. Check back for more in the future!
One of the first things I teach my slam students is that a successful slam poem is one which the audience can summarize in one simple sentence after the first listen. Oh, that was the runaway slave love poem. That was the poem about breakdancing. I liked the one about the poet’s mom ending the genocide in Darfur. If a poem rambles too much, or takes on too much as its subject matter, it can be difficult for an audience (and thus the judges) to understand what they’re supposed to take away from it, how they’re supposed to feel about it, and what they just learned. This is a problem unique to the performance arts, as other mediums (page poetry, for example, or the visual arts) utilize technologies that allow a reader/viewer to take their time, to re-read and re-examine.
“You became the reason I don’t read letters / without having someone else proofread them first.”
Jared Singer performing for the Urbana Poetry Slam in Charlotte, NC during the 2012 National Poetry Slam. Jared has been a star of the New York City slam scene for the past five years and is the creator of some of the most engaging and idiosyncratic work in slam today.
In honor of the National Poetry Slam this week in Charlotte, NC, Button will be posting videos from the Twin Cities team, who are two-time national champions. Today’s video is of NPS Champion and member of the 2012 Twin Cities Unified Slam Team, Shane Hawley doing what he does best. Talking about robots.
“We each got a story rattling in our mason jar bellies”
Starting this coming Saturday (the 28th) Button Poetry will be running a new weekly series entitled Saturdays Are Mlekodays in which National Poetry Slam Champion and Indiana University MFA Candidate Michael Mlekoday will be reviewing and analyzing spoken word poems, on the page. The first episode will examine a piece by the inimitable Rachel McKibbens, titled “The Giver”. We can’t wait for you to come back and check out Episode One of Saturdays Are Mlekodays.
“A letter to Alexander Graham Bell from his deaf wife Mabel”
Awarded Best Persona Poem at CUPSI 2012.
Last week members of Button Poetry were lucky enough to attend CUPSI, which is the largest (48 teams) collegiate poetry slam(where this video was taken). CUPSI (the college union poetry slam invitational) is dearer to me than any other slam event. It is the one week a year I can guarantee I will just be bombarded by the wonder, poise and talent of young poets like Karly. This is one of the smartest and most impressive performances I’ve seen in years.
Once more, Karly Fesolowich of SUNY New Paltz performing at the University of La Verne.
Khary Jackson AKA 6 is 9 is one of the most prolific and experimental poet/performers in the country. We were lucky (to say the least) that he had the time to film with us and hope you enjoy the video.