This past week in a workshop I wrote a poem pushing myself to incorporate some of the critiques and challenges that I had been receiving as part of the practice of expanding on my artistry. When it came time for my critique, instead of feeling that the words were being considered, what I heard most reflected was that my experience wasn't theirs. I was asked "was this meant to be read aloud or performed?"
I couldn't help but get the feeling that the poem then and there was disregarded and somehow judged differently because I had chosen to write a narrative poem that was timely, relevant and meant to be understood and I wasn't interested in scattering the words across the page in some sort of cryptic design to be considered more "literary".
Tony Media points out in the introduction to Bum Rush the Page that "Serious poets who also happen to perform well on stage are constantly being called spoken-word artists and are not taken seriously as writers. Poets (especially those of color) who use the word (use language) to effect change are therefore ghettoized by those in the academy and those at the gates as solely (or "simply") oral, urban, or street poets." (xix) I am exhausted and frustrated by this experience.
Like a good friend said to me: "that page/stage conversation is tyyud, tired, seco, boring, exhaustive and really, when you look at it carefully, is more a conversation between the rich and the poor."
Well put friend.
While much of the poetry I write or like may have some relation to spoken word "that which lives in performance" poetry should always maintain as Medina says, "the integrity of the page, of the written word." punto. It's got to be about something and then each word has to be considered. Entendiste?