Bum Rush the Page is a groundbreaking collection, capturing the best new work from the poets who have brought fresh energy, life, and relevance to American poetry.

“Here is a democratic orchestration of voices and visions, poets of all ages, ethnicities, and geographic locations coming together to create a dialogue and to jam–not slam. This is our mouth on paper, our hearts on our sleeves, our refusal to shut up and swallow our silence. These ...
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Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam

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Bum Rush the Page is a groundbreaking collection, capturing the best new work from the poets who have brought fresh energy, life, and relevance to American poetry.

“Here is a democratic orchestration of voices and visions, poets of all ages, ethnicities, and geographic locations coming together to create a dialogue and to jam–not slam. This is our mouth on paper, our hearts on our sleeves, our refusal to shut up and swallow our silence. These poems are tough, honest, astute, perceptive, lyrical, blunt, sad, funny, heartbreaking, and true. They shout, they curse, they whisper, and sing. But most of all, they tell it like it is.”
–Tony Medina, from the Introduction

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
To most readers, the hundreds of tightly rhymed, orally friendly poems here will read as "slam." But in his introduction, Medina, a poet and activist, takes great pains to separate the poems from slam's crowd-pleasing limitations, and uses the term "def jam" to describe the political spoken-word poetry he and Rivera, also a poet-activist, have collected. Medina's and Rivera's emphasis is on the poem and its subject matter, not the poet, which makes for a remarkably democratic anthology. Every poet has about the same page and a half of space. The book's design puts the poets' names in a very small type. None of the big names June Jordan, Reg E. Gaines, Edwin Torres, Wanda Coleman, Patricia Smith and Amiri Baraka are given more attention than the less published. Organized by subjects such as "Blood, I Say, Study our Story, Sing this Song," "Drums Drown Out Our Sorrow" and "Seeds of Resistance," most of the poems use urban imagery, tough talk and declaration. Most are identity-centered, anti-racist and pro-activist. Many focus on current events. There are, for instance, at least four poems about Amadou Diallo, the unarmed Ghanaian immigrant killed by New York policemen as he stood in his doorway. All mention the 41 shots; all include the word "mother." There are poems about Shaka Sankofa (convicted of murder at 17, and executed nearly 20 years later under Texas's then-Governor George W. Bush), and homages to Cuban bandleader Tito Puente. Some readers will wish for more variation of theme and for more layered meanings, but the topicality and directness of the poems make this an ideal textbook for introductory poetry classes, especially for urban high school students, and for anyone interestedin poetry as a social art. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307565648
  • Publisher: Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony
  • Publication date: 4/23/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Tony Medina is a poet, professor, activist, and author of ten books, including DeShawn Days, Love to Langston, and Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature & Art.

Louis Reyes Rivera is a professor of Pan African, Caribbean, Puerto Rican, and African American history and literature. A noted poet and essayist, he is the recipient of more than twenty citations, including a Special Congressional Recognition Award for his work as an activist poet. Def Poetry Jam is a multimedia poetry project featuring live showcases and jams across the country, a website, and other projects aimed at bringing poetry to new audiences.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Read an Excerpt

The Way We Move
the way we move, funk groove
beat the rhythm out some pavement,
our elegant violent attitude, quick
slow motion movement in quicksand
in somebody else's shit house shanty town
shingly jingly chains clamped on our neck,
hang to the floor scrape spark and clink
and we make music out of this cool behind dark
shades, taught to fear the sun, hiding in
beauty parlors and bars draggy face with
hatred and ugliness,
and it only comes when you don't
accept the natural gifts, the fingerprints of a
higher order of peace and simple logic, what makes us
phenomenal is that we can sleep walk in
harmony, never breaking a sweat 'cept in factories
or bars, prisons we even build systems for, our
own street logic and survival, but this is not where
we're meant to be, not on the operating table of
extinction or at the broken doorstep of finality
stumbling drunk confused scagged out on whiteness
and greed and stupidity into the bleeding face of our
dead father, and we are not supposed to move
this way, slow mumbling suicide in quicksand and defeat
we must refocus, we must see again

Tony Medina (New York)

. . . And the Saga Continues
for Gary Graham

From Guinea to Haiti to Brooklyn
And back
From Guinea to Haiti to the Bronx
And back
From Brooklyn to the Bronx to LA
And back
From Philly to Haiti to the New Jersey Turnpike
And back
From village to hamlet to Borough
And back
From LA to Orange to Newark to Guinea
And back
From PR to the Bronx Brooklyn Queens Guinea
And back
From Soundview to no view of the anguish of . . .
Mother Mother why have you forsaken me

Bless me father for they are winning
And my mutter is crying
Bless me father for my mutter is crying
At the sight of my dying
Save me Lord from being vanquished
Save my mutter from this anguish

From Harlem to the Bronx to Brooklyn Queens Newark San Juan
and the nation's highways I languish
In my blood and tears of my mother's anguish
And back

Call the name . . . Call the names I say
you know them better than I

Shaka Sankofa Malcolm Ferguson Patrick Doresmond
Abner Louima Amadou Diallo Kevin Cedeno James Byrd
Matthew Sheppard Anthony Baez Michael Stewart
Earl Faison . . . etc. etc. etc.

And the list gets longer week by week
An African got lynched today
Juneteenth 2000

From Texas to Chicago to Watts to Newark
And back
From PR to Cuba to the Dominican Republic
And back

Africa calls from the bottom of the Atlantic
And back
From Ghanaian fields smooth black skin
Turns purplish under lash under water
And back

Can you hear them gurgle . . . Abnerrrrr
Can you hear them scream . . . Amadouuuuuuuu
Can you hear the windpipe snap . . . Antonyyyyyyyyap

Blessed be Blessed be Blessed be
Dear Lord have mercy Lord have mercy
Have mercy on me
bless me father for I
have sinned . . .
with my mind I daily will demise
of the western ways and all of its compatriots

Bless me father with a bottle of scupernog or
Wild Irish Rose to soften the blow
of this monster's breath upon my neck
And back

in harlem in havana in charleston in Porto Prince
the saga continues . . .
blood blood I say
blood in the rectum bullets in the gut
in the head the chest neck
And back

A rope a nightstick pepper spray
Or a lethal illegal injection
from the State
the state of tex ass where seldom is heard
an encouraging word and the sky is cloudy
all year
how 'bout florida or new jersey or new york
the city so nice they kill you twice

Next stop Ghana to the Congo to Zimbabwe
And back

Ted Wilson (Orange, NJ)

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Table of Contents

Foreword xv
Introduction xix
We Have Been Believers xxv
A Poet Is Not a Juke Box xxvi
Nommo xxvii
No Jive xxviii
failure of an invention xxviii
Building xxix
The Disdirected xxxi
Blood I Say, Study Our Story, Sing This Song
The Way We Move 1
... And the Saga Continues 1
Bad Times 3
How to Do 4
Like a Dog 6
Lonely Women 7
On the Other Side 9
N 10
Her Scream Has Been Stolen 11
Crater Face 12
susu 13
An Asian Am Anthem 14
Scout 16
This Old Man 17
Afternoon Train 19
Beginning at the End: Capital/Capitol Punishment 20
Open Your Mouth--and Smile
A Chinese Man in Smyma 22
450 Years of Selective Memory (Smile) 23
the n-word 24
an open letter to the entertainment industry 25
Metropolitan Metaphysics 28
America Eats Its Young 29
laughin at cha 31
Rosa's Beauty 32
Overworked 33
Nintendo 34
Stealth-Pirates of Cyberia 35
The Death of Poetry 35
Last Visit to Chestnut Middle School 37
Learning to Drive at 32 38
Mr. BOOM BOOM Man 39
Road to the Presidency 40
For What It's Worth 41
Every Word Must Conjure
It's Called Kings 44
Billy 45
To Become Unconscious 46
Letter to an Unconceived Son 46
The Usual Suspects 48
Blooming Death ... Blossoms 49
What the Oracle Said 51
The U.S.A. Court of No Appeal 52
on the state-sanctioned murder of shaka sankofa 52
An Epistle to the Revolutionary Bible 53
Warrior Womb 55
Cowboynomics 56
Demockery 57
Executive Privilege 58
Question 61
georgia avenue, washington d.c. 62
A Palace of Mourners 64
Palestine 65
The Road from Khartoum 66
A Modern Love Poem 68
In Praise of the Seattle Coalition 69
Blood Is the Argument 69
Drums Drown Out the Sorrow
Amadou Diallo from Guinea to the Bronx Dead on Arrival 73
Another Scream 74
A Well-Bred Woman 76
Amadou 78
BLS 78
after diana died 79
Dudley Randall (1914-2000) 80
Hoodoo Whisper 81
Sammy Davis, Jr. 82
Glad All Over 84
Dancing after Sanchez 85
The 13th Letter 86
In Black Churches 86
For Gwendolyn Brooks 87
tonal embryology 88
Zizwe 88
All, Bomaye 89
Phyllis 90
Timbalero 91
Puente 93
Somalia 93
epitaph for Etheridge Knight 94
Farewell Queen Mother Moore 97
Palenque Queen by Habana's Shores 98
When the Definition of Madness Is Love
January Hangover 100
the hardest part about love 100
Lies We Tell Ourselves 102
8 ways of looking at pussy 103
Temporary Insanity 105
alone in belize 106
footprints 107
Big World Look Out 108
Bullet Hole Man: A Love Poem 110
Dreadlocks 111
Roots 111
Six Minutes Writing 112
Diner 112
Fullness 113
Wet Dream 115
foursomes 115
Wishing You 116
Shunning an Imperative 116
January 8, 1996 118
A Poem for You 119
Throbs for the Instructress 120
At the Frenchman's 121
Mata Hari Blues or Why I Will Never Be a Spy 123
Yellah 124
Extremes Ain't My Thing As Salaam Alaikum 125
13 126
rock candy 127
Love Jam 129
Cocaine Mad-Scream Article #33 LoveSong 130
We Whose Fathers Are Hidden
The Elders Are Gods 132
What the Dead Do 133
creation is a cycle 133
Birth 134
Daughter-to-Father Talk 136
Tattooing the Motherline 137
Our Fathers 138
Mama's Magic 139
Father's Day 140
Momma in Red 140
Wildlife 141
Chicago on the Day Brother Increases His Chances of Reaching Age 21 142
Lest We Forget 143
The African Burial Ground Called Tribeca 143
fatherless townships 144
Waiting for the Results of a Pregnancy Test 146
Sitting in the Doctor's Office the Next Day 148
Circa 148
Seed of Resistance
Cooking 151
Ben Hur 151
in 5th grade 152
Complected 154
Broken Ends Broken Promises 155
My Name's Not Rodriguez 156
Water from the Well 157
The Tragic Mulatto Is Neither 158
Beauty Is Moving Us Forward
I'm Sayin Though 160
beauty rituals 2000 160
Medusa 161
Stariette 161
exceptions 163
What the deal, son? 166
Plain Ole Brother Blues 168
Why I Be a Goddess 169
I'm the Man 170
Dare to Be Different 171
Thoughts from a Bar Stool 173
A Blue Black Pearl 173
runnin 175
conversations in the struggle 176
Harvest: A Line Drawing 177
joseph speaks to gericault in the studio 178
Entrancielo 181
New York Seizures 182
Hey Yo / Yo Soy! 185
Flying over America 188
It Was the Music That Made Us
I'm a Hip Hop Cheerleader 190
kill the dj 192
Ms. Cousins' Rap 193
all up in there 194
Doin' 195
The Trash Talker 196
Owed to Eminem 197
A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop 200
rapid transit 201
hold it steady 202
Conversation with Duke Ellington and Louis (Pops) Armstrong 203
For Lady and Prez 204
breath 205
The Flow 206
Bebop Trumpet 208
conjugation of the verb: to blow 208
The Creed of a Graffiti Writer 210
Sonido Ink(quieto) 214
because I am it's a race thing trip 215
Grasshopper 217
Grace 219
The Low End 219
rep/resent 221
2G (Another Millennium Poem) 223
enter(f*#@ckin)tained 223
Children of the Word
Motherseed 226
Wake Up, My Little Pretties 227
nommo: how we come to speak 227
spaNglisH 229
New Boogaloo 229
Mi Negrito 232
News of the World 233
Much of Your Poetry Is Beautiful 234
Ginsberg 234
In Bed with James Tate 235
soulgroovin ditty #7 236
Sundays 237
To Aretha Franklin from Sparkle 238
Lumumba Blues 239
All the shoes are shined and the cotton is picked 240
In this day age 241
The Trouble I've Seen 241
Having Lost My Son, I Confront the Wreckage 242
Bensonhurst 243
For Michael Griffith, Murdered Dec. 21, 1986, Howard Beach, NY 244
Lift Every Fist and Swing 245
TV Dinner 245
Bluesman 248
We're Not Well Here 250
Nickel Wine and Deep Kisses 251
The Coward 253
Strip 254
Sex 255
enemies 256
American Poetry 257
So Many Books, So Little Time 260
How to Be a Street Poet 261
The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash 263
X 264
The Tradition 265
There It Is 267
Contributors 270
Permissions 281
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2011

    My life

    My life is spoken i always had a dream beside me i hate life is never compelte

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    Great collection!

    New poetry, unlike anything you've read unless you're familiar with the movement. Contemporary genius.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    When Spoken Word Comes Alive

    In reading Bum Rush the Page, the reader feels as if being thrown into the audience of an open mic or poetry cipher that Medina and Reyes have masterfully organized. With a powerful foreword by Sonia Sanchez and poetry adorning even the invocation, the subtitle brings no false heat in declaring this work a `def poetry jam¿. The first portion of this anthology, entitled, Blood I Say, Sing Our Story, Sing this Song contains pieces that, much like the title, tell a story and have a narrative-like feel for them. Pieces that stand out specifically in this section are An Asian Am Anthem and And the Saga Continues, which capture the title and tell of history and pain. Emotionally charged pieces, such as On the Other Side and Lonely Women tell painful stories of domestic violence and love gone wrong. The accompanying section, Open Your Mouth and Smile, kicks of with poems such as 450 Years of Selective Memory (Smile) that begs the reader to smile amidst all of the reasons in the world to do just the opposite. Following this the sections, Every Word Must Conjure Up and Drums Drown Out the Sorrow both contain masterful works from poets young, old, near, and far. The climax of this anthology is reached in the section entitled, When the Definition of Madness is Love. When the poets of Bum Rush the Page speak of love, it is unlike anything I have ever heard before. The metaphoric content for happiness, love, tears, pain, and heartache is brought to a higher exponential level than ever thought possible. The reader can feel the sorrow and heartbreak in pieces such as The Hardest Part About Love or Bullet Hole Man. Emotion is felt at its highest point in this section, thus making it, in my opinion, the strongest. These poets truly know how to tug on reader¿s heartstrings. The sections that come after, We Whose Fathers Are Hidden, Seed of Resistance, Beauty is Moving Us Forward, It Was the Music that Made Us, and Children of the Word provide even more heartfelt work from poets who have captivating stories to tell and complicated emotions to free. Comical pieces, such as Owed to Eminem, show diversity in that these writings can not only make you cry, but they can make you laugh. Specifically, I would recommend this publication to people ages 16+ with an open mind Overall, I would recommend Bum Rush the Page to anyone who enjoys poetry and spoken word.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2007

    A Motivating Read

    This collection of poetry is extremely inspiring. I fell in love with the repetition and feeling conveyed in '13' by Jennifer Murphy,and the subtle but strong meaning of 'Like a Dog' by Cheryl Boyce Taylor, among others.There were only a few that I couldn't really get into or I felt were over my head. But either way, after reading this book I felt pushed to write. The opening quote by Langston Hughes,'The prerequisite for writing is having something to say' is the case for all of these poems.What is important to one person, might not be to another, but that is what makes the sharing and expression of these opinions through poetry so great.The genre and styles of writing were so diverse, that if there was something you couldn't relate to on one page, on the next one you could.I enjoyed being able to see the words on the page the way the writer initially visualized it and then question the significance of their artistic choices.I have never seen Def Poetry Jam, but I can only imagine the impact that it has when performed live. Still, I feel that the act of reading poetry by yourself or with others is so much more personal and am glad I have this in my collection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2003


    Let me start by saying I was never into Spoken Word poetry. I did like hip-hop but I never went out of my way for this type of poetry. One day I was flipping channels on my TV and a ran into Def Poetry Jam I was hooked right away. When I heard there was a book I didn¿t care how much it would cost I had to buy it. I love to read a lot and I have many books but this book is by far the tightest book I have ever read. I love it so much. I really love how there is so many poets from all around with so many styles there is something for everyone in this book from urban hip hop heads to people like me that just wants to get some goose bumps when I read poetry this good. This for sure is a must buy for anyone even if you think you might not really like def poetry its worth it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2003

    Mouth Open & Closed

    Some poetry is hard to read on the page because it needs to be recited out loud. But poems like 'A Poet is not a jukebox' by Dudley Randall are so tight they could be read out loud or on a page and still be flawless. Some poems were great! Others could've stayed in the poets head ('It's called Kings' by by Susana Cabanas). Overall, I thought the book was cool but the show is better by a long shot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2002

    A Must Read!

    This is the most iconoclastic Poetry Anthology, since Upton Sinclair's "The Cry For Justice, An Anthology of the Great Social Protest Literature of All Time." It's a must read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2002


    This book is packed with so many talented poets displaying works that touch on various levels of life and pure human emotion! There is nothing else like this anywhere and I am proud to have it in my collection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2002

    There are no other books on poetry LIKE THIS ONE!

    I bought the book a few days ago, and I am surprised at the number of unknown poets featured for just over 20 dollars. My favorite poems are works written by Fred Hampton Jr. called 'The Things I've Seen.' I also enjoy a peom called 'Bullet Hole Man' by an author I don't re-call. It was a love poem that captured the beauty and beast love affair between a sista who loves a 'drug-dealer or despised gang member.' There are ample poems in this book that people will enjoy and find entertaining as well as thought prokoking. I went on a date recently and we read different poems to one another in the book and the conversations it created made the date go excellent. She said my suggestion that we go out on a date with this book was the most unique and enjoying date she ever had! Thanks Russell for branding your def poetry jam to this complete work of TRUE poetry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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