Tuesday, May 10, 2011
the ramblings of a Weirdo
"We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down."
— Kurt Vonnegut
I don’t blog often. Today I have something to say. It has occurred to me over the course of several conversations that the collective as a collective has been resting on its laurels. This is not about laziness. We all continue to write and write well. The thing that has stopped is our friendly rivalries and our internal challenges to one another. It was ever a matter of one-up-manship , but a matter of approaching a topic or prompt in a way that was different than anyone else in the collective. We learn from and teach each other our styles without losing our artistic voices.
I have always seen the collective as a learning tool, and that it is our responsibility to find talent and nurture it as well as learn from that individual’s approach. Most of us are not trained in the art of poetry or performing. I have seen page poets become brilliant performers and stage poets master traditional forms. I have seen visual artists master both page and stage.
When we claim to be fighting the scourge of genre, we mean it. We do not carry traditional degrees in our chosen artistic medium (most of us, anyway) but we are MFA’s-Mother Fuckin’ Artists. I learned that recently from another member of the Collective.
I’ve been asked where our ideas come from and most of them originate out of the conversations we share at the shows we attend. We play the game “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” and if the concept flies, we do that. Out of that has come the Poetry Bomb, The Omniphonic Challenge, the Poetry Pentathlon, and Exact Change Only as well as Exact Change Press and Naked Mannekin.
Our biggest agenda is that we don’t really have one. We fight the scourge of Genre. We don’t want to be pigeon holed. We need to keep challenging ourselves and each other. Our agenda is the creation of art.
When we were in High School getting our first real exposure to poetry it was either weird or just boring. Some folks carry that lesson for the rest of their lives. I’ve found that poetry works best when you embrace the weird and repair the boring.
We’ve attempted multi-voice poems, and ensemble poetry, and chain poetry, and standard poetry prompts, poetry in form, out of form, poetry printed on boxes, with visual art, without visual art, poetry with music, poetry in drag, poetry plays, (and breathe) fuckin’ poetry by fuckin’ poets.
Many of the Collective Members have been asked what it is we do, how do we define the actual action. They want a simple answer like “we call it spoken word, or poetry out loud” I have no quick, quippy answer that would look good on a billboard
We are not actors, but we have a stage, we attempt some theatricality without being petulant, we attempt some emotion without seeming self important, we banter, we laugh, we smile, and we cry. And all those things have to come from some place genuine, someplace sincere. We believe words are powerful, that one well placed word can take the place of a dozen. Most importantly we believe that among the hyperbole and lies, we have to be both honest and true.
That out particular honesty and truth can be rage, humor, disappointment, love, lust, violence, death, creation and apocalypse is fortunate for us. We have a gigantic color palette to choose from.
And none of that really answers the question.
The pretentious answer is: We are music and color, and drama, and comedy, and the illegitimate love children of too many words having sex with too many concepts.
The unpretentious answer is the same thing, only preceded by the phrase “On our best day”
This is probably making little sense. As usual I am trying to address 10 thousand topics all at once. I think the quote from Vonnegut at the beginning of this whole thing sums it up best.