It seems to me that we may feel discouraged about the state of the poetry universe. W4tB, in my mind, was formed for specific reasons. In my head, I see it as a great power that is trying to unite the disparate elements of an increasingly fracturing poetry community. This is, of course, the hugely idealized version of what we do.
Poets are an odd breed to begin with and there are many different approaches to how our art is achieved, or even what our art actually is. The great debates still abound. There are too many questions.
Should poetry be read aloud, or is it strictly a printed art form?
The W4tB answer is... Both. A poem should be able to hang on its own whether it favors stage or page. If a poem is both honest and true it should not matter how it is presented. Some poems are designed to be stages, others for specific lay out on a page, and it shouldn't matter. The same piece in either situation may reveal things not seen before.
What is the difference between slam, spoken word, and poetry?
These are terms that get mixed up and used interchangeably. They are similar, but not the same. I have heard some slam stuff that was fantastic poetry and have heard some poetry that was utter crap.
Slam has disciplines like time limits and a lack of props. Poetry is not burdened by these things, and spoken word seems to be a catch all that includes storytellers and musicians that talk their way through things.
W4tB has always been trying to fight the scourge of genre. We don't really care where you come from. We like slammers, and storytellers, academics, and bar poets, and street poets. We want to unite these different disciplines.
W4tB is about a love of words. We ain't looking for fame, we certainly ain't looking for fortune. When you meet us, don't lead with your resume. We don't care where you've been published. We will share in your joy when your poem sees print on paper or the web, but "Do you still love the words?" You can have a dozen books, people can talk about you in workshops and class rooms, and it doesn't matter. The question we are going to ask you is...did the words match the emotions, did you love the words, did they breathe the same way you did on the day you put them on paper.
The other goal of W4tB is to raise the art of poetry so that is sits up on the same shelf as theater and music and dance and maybe, incorporate elements of those arts in.the presentation of poetry. We are trying for a mixing of the blood. poetry should be film, theater, song, dance, without compromise with only love for the art.
If this has been something that has occurred to you...Whether you believe that poetry is words on paper or one poet in the spotlight, or an ensemble making a poem into a living beast, W4tB may be what you are looking for. You should check us out.