Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam

Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam

by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
     
 

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Words in Your Face traces the rich history of slam poetry through the lens of the New York City scene that pioneered it. Author Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz situates New York slam poetry in the history of oral tradition in poetry throughout history and around the world, with particular attention to the three major 20th century arts movements that helped set the

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Overview

Words in Your Face traces the rich history of slam poetry through the lens of the New York City scene that pioneered it. Author Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz situates New York slam poetry in the history of oral tradition in poetry throughout history and around the world, with particular attention to the three major 20th century arts movements that helped set the stage for it: the Harlem Renaissance, the Beats, and hip hop. Aptowicz explores the birth of slam at the Nuyorican Poets’ Café and the genre’s explosive growth as the media responded with events like Lollapalooza and MTV’s Unplugged. The book expands the canvas by examining the connections between academia and slammers, especially the poets of color, the youth slammers, and the burgeoning hip hop poetry scene. Interviews with key players like Chicago’s Marc Smith and San Francisco’s Gary Mex Glazner help tell this fascinating story from the inside.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Years of research and interviews led to the creation of this work by poet Aptowicz (Working Class Represent), founder of the National Poetry Slam Championship. In it, Aptowicz defines three cultural movements contributing to slam poetry: the Harlem Renaissance, the Beat movement, and the advent of hip-hop. Her captivating history reveals a highly charged, creative genre, but no footnotes or bibliography back up the text. Instead, Aptowicz offers an oral history from her firsthand experiences and from interviews with key slammers like Bob Holman, Maggie Estep, Saul Williams, Edward Garcia, Jen Weiss, and many more. These accounts strive to answer that key question-Why slam?-by testifying to the immediate gratification slammers feel in getting their words out and the strong sense of community they experience through their performances. Readers may wish for more examples besides Beau Sia's tribute to "the Ginz" (Allen Ginsberg) and the poetry triggered by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Including numerous photos and chronologies of slam events, this is useful for libraries offering poetry slams as part of their programming.
—Nedra Crowe-Evers

School Library Journal

Adult/High School -New York City's Slam movement started in the 1980s as the dream of Bob Holman to pull poetry out of the clutches of academia and bring it back to regular folks as a popular art form. Its traditional influences of Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsburg, and Langston Hughes played a large part in its substance, while punk rock and hip-hop brought in a decidedly new-and often aggressive-aesthetic. Aptowicz uses anecdotes, stories, and interviews to chronicle the life of this unique art form. The general public holds an image of an aggressive, in-your-face poet shouting words on stage, but the author shows a movement with surprising levels of depth and diversity. Although many may know the backgrounds and names of the poets who made a big splash on popular TV programs like MTV's Spoken Word Unplugged and Def Poetry Jam , the stories of Slam's beginnings and how it continued to grow in spite of its sudden popularity are what make this book so fascinating. Teens with an interest in writing lyrics will love the stories and will find Aptowicz's style accessible and entertaining. A number of photographs and addresses to major Slam venues are included, but there is no index or bibliography of major published works. Slam Poetry has spread to coffee shops, art galleries, and even libraries across the country; knowing and understanding its roots only enhances the power the style already holds over its audiences.-Matthew L. Moffett, Pohick Regional Library, Burke, VA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781933368825
Publisher:
Soft Skull Press, Inc.
Publication date:
12/01/2007
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
930,097
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
1270L (what's this?)

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