Posts in Category: Performance Poetry

RED by Salena Godden

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Anything you can do we can do bleeding
We can do anything dripping with blood

Salena Godden released this poem and video back in September in collaboration with Nasty Women UK, a London art show that raised money to combat violence against women and girls, according to a blog post.

Salena Godden, one of the UK’s most iconic poets, has stepped forward to donate her latest poem RED in a collaboration with Nasty Women UK.

“RED is a poem about periods. RED is about stigma. This is about women’s autonomy over their own bodies and their own choices. RED is a protest poem against the tampon tax, anger that sanitary products have been considered a luxury item and therefore taxable. RED is a fury that money from the UK tampon tax is funding anti-abortion charities. I have great admiration for the work of the Nasty Women’s global movement and donate this work as an endorsement. We must end all violence against all women in all its forms. We must end the tampon tax. I wish all women to have a bloody safe and bloody healthy period. Period!”

Nasty Women is a global art movement that serves to demonstrate solidarity among artists who identify with being a Nasty Woman in the face of threats to roll back women’s rights, individual rights, and abortion rights. With over 40 events across the globe Nasty Women Exhibitions also serve to support organizations defending these rights and to be a platform for organization and resistance.

Click through for the text of the poem.

The video was screened as part of Godden’s headlining performance at this past weekend’s Filmpoem Festival in Lewes.

Thank You, Tree by Fatou M’Baye

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Nathan Tranbarger filmed and edited this video for the Wick Poetry Center’s Traveling Stanzas project, which has been going on now as long as Moving Poems. I’m happy to see that they’re not only still around; they’ve expanded into a proper online magazine as well as maintaining the public poetry poster side of the project. Kent State Magazine also has a short piece about this video:

[Fatou] M’Baye wrote the poem “Thank You, Tree” last fall as a fifth-grader attending the Holden Elementary School Writer’s Club, an after-school program. David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, held a workshop at the club as part of the center’s outreach efforts to the community. “In the first session, we started with the idea of being grateful for something in our lives,” says Hassler. “Fatou chose this tree.”

“I wanted to thank her for helping me and my friends,” says M’Baye. “I wanted to thank all the trees. Without them we wouldn’t have healthy, happy lives.” […]

Since 2009 illustrated poems have made their way across Northeast Ohio, displayed on buses and transit systems and printed on posters and postcards as a project of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Wick Poetry Center. Now these poetry illustrations are journeying around the world as part of an interactive website and traveling exhibit that launched this fall, with support from the Ohio Arts Council.

Traveling Stanzas—an award-winning collaboration between the Wick Poetry Center and the School of Visual Communication Design—aims to facilitate a global conversation through the intimate and inclusive voice of poetry. Featured poems are curated from global submissions and illustrated by Kent State students and alumni.

Click through to see the poster made for M’Baye’s poem.

My Body Is Mine by Jade Anouka

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A simple but powerful videopoetic statement from British poet and actor Jade Anouka. Jade noted in an email that the poem was something she initially wrote for Black History Month.

Freestyle at “Poetic Justice In The Park” by Micah Fletcher

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Micah Fletcher, the sole survivor of last Friday’s knife attack by a white supremacist on a train in Portland, Oregon, is featured in this brief YouTube promo from September 2015:

Micah Fletcher from the Whatcha Wanna Do Crew spit a freestyle at Poetic Justice in the Park. Check it out. Don’t forget to come out to Poetic Justice Every Last Saturday of the Month!

It’s an unremarkable video, but Fletcher is clearly a remarkable man who doesn’t merely talk the talk, but walks the walk, as The Oregonian reports:

One of the men who came to the defense of a teenager wearing a hijab on a MAX train Friday won a 2013 poetry competition with a poem condemning prejudices faced by Muslims.

Micah David-Cole Fletcher was injured in the attack after he and two other men approached suspect Jeremy Christian, who was allegedly yelling racial slurs at two young women, one of whom is Muslim.

Christian is suspected of stabbing all three of them, killing Rick Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and injuring Fletcher. Fletcher, now 21, was a Madison high school student when he won the poetry contest.

[…]

At first, Fletcher refused painkillers. He had seen people become addicted, Helm said, and didn’t want that to happen to him. But his family’s pleas and the growing pain made him change his mind, Helm said.

“‘This is the most exquisite pain I have ever felt,'” Fletcher told her.

The young man’s family could not be reached.

Last Memorial Day weekend, Fletcher and other poets part of Spit/WRITE, a youth poetry group, were reading poems about social justice on a MAX train. The purpose was to give them the space to call attention to social justice issues, one of his poetry mentors, S. Renee Mitchell, said.

Fletcher has already established himself as a poet passionate about social injustice. One of his poems in a 2013 poetry slam that he won railed against the prejudices faced by Muslims.

“When two towering trees of wrought iron and glass and cement are brought down to their knees,
We let it leave an ugly footprint on america that hasn’t disappeared in 12 years.
As in one third the amount of civilians killed by drones in the middle east per one terrorist caught in the crossfire,”
Fletcher read from a black book.

His performance can be seen on YouTube.

[…]

Portland poet Maia Abbruzzese said Fletcher was a mentor to her and another 11 poets in 2015. She’s come across him numerous times since then at poetry slams. His poems are philosophical and often have a social justice angle, she said.

Because of the themes in his poetry and what she saw of his personality, Abbruzzese said she wasn’t surprised he was involved in the incident on the MAX train.

“Just because of who he is as a person,” Abbruzzese said. “He deeply cares about other people.”

For more about Fletcher and the other two victims of the attack, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Rick Best, see “These three men stood up to hate in Portland” on CNN.com. I don’t usually get on the soapbox here, but as a U.S. citizen and a leftist, I will just say that although it’s tempting to be endlessly cynical about U.S. war-making and neoliberal economic imperialism, that’s not necessarily who we are. We are David Christian a bit, yes, but we are also the young women he abused and the three men who stood up to oppose him. As a poet, I’d like to think that I would’ve done as Micah Fletcher did, but I’m not sure I would’ve found the courage. In any case, there’s no need to indulge further tribal feelings here. I’m simply proud to be part of the same human race as Micah Fletcher.

Heartbreak by Emmet Kirwan

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An exemplary spoken-word poetry film directed by Dave Tynan, featuring actors Jordanne Jones and Deirdre Molloy as well as the poet himself, Emmet Kirwan. It was selected for Special Mention this past weekend by the jury of the Weimar Poetry Film Award, on which I was honored to serve along with animator Ebele Okoye and writer Stefan Petermann. Our statement, translated from the German:

What questions can a poetry film take? Perhaps: in what kind of a world do we live? And in what kind of world do we want to live? In a stirring manner, Heartbreak pursues this question. The film by Dave Tynan tells the story of a young, Irish girl who unintentionally gets pregnant and had to raise her son all on her own. At the same time it is the history of a misogynist structured society and this, not only in Ireland, but everywhere in the world. Carried by the passionate, multi-faceted oration of the Spoken- Word poets Emmert Kirwan, an efficient camera and a wise narration Heartbreak plays around the questions of self-determination about own bodies, objectification, sexism and gender roles. The film succeeds in an impressive way, to translate the powerful words into touching images while remaining clear and direct. Tynan and Kirwan know how to arouse empathy, stimulate thoughts concerning a situation, but above all, anger!, yet, looking into the future with confidence. Heartbreak is a feminist poetry film for women and men. Courageous, angry, heartbreaking; an exclamation mark. A film the world must see. C’mere, C’mere, C’mere.

The YouTube description notes that it was “commissioned and developed by THISISPOPBABY as part of RIOT, Winner of Best Production at Dublin Fringe Festival 2016.” To date it has been viewed over 1.3 million times on Facebook and 201,000 times on YouTube, where it has inspired a lively discussion, with the usual #notallmen idiots vastly outnumbered by those resonating with its message.

application for the position of abdelhalim hafez’s girl by Safia Elhillo

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Motionpoems’ latest poetry film is directed by Donna Lamar using a poem from Safia Elhillo‘s collection January Children. The Sudanese-American poet stars in the film.

1700% Project: Mistaken for Muslim by Anida Yoeu Ali

Made seven years ago, this collaboration between Cambodian-American performance artist and poet Anida Yoeu Ali and Japanese-American filmmaker Masahiro Sugano is, sadly, more relevant than ever, with hate crimes against Muslims (and those erroneously assumed to be Muslim) escalating in the U.S. under an administration that has embraced a white Christian supremacist ideology. This was the Film of the Month for January at Poetryfilmkanal. See the 1700% Project website for much more information about the film, including bios of the collaborators and the text of the poem, a cento based on hate crimes committed shortly after 9/11. The video description reads:

In this video, narratives collide with music, poetry and politics to create a complex and layered experience. A poet, dancer, angel, prisoner converge with members of the Muslim community to speak, deflect, and intervene against racial profiling and hate crimes. This convergence exemplifies a spirit of defiance and resistance from communities of people who refuse to end in violence.

This spoken word video is a collaboration between artist Anida Yoeu Ali and filmmaker Masahiro Sugano with over 50 diverse volunteers, participants and community members in the Chicagoland area. It is part of an ongoing project that engages art as a form of intervention against the racial profiling of Muslims in a post 9/11 era. The larger project titled “The 1700% Project” uses a multi-faceted artistic approach to educate the wider public about the diversity within the Muslim community. The number 1700% refers to the exponential percentage increase of hate crimes against Arabs, Muslims and those perceived to be Arab or Muslim since the events of September 11, 2001.

As the article in Poetryfilmkanal notes, the lack of didacticism makes this film more powerful and provocative than most political poetry. Ali says in her artist’s statement:

The project acknowledges that politically driven works are complex and layered thus often requiring a multitude of ways for expression and encounter. … My work continues to investigate the residual stain of performance and how the live body completes the experience for both audience and performer. Performing narratives is an act of social storytelling that contributes to collective healing. For me, performance and storytelling become ways of bridging the interior and exterior space of self as well as initiate critical dialogues between communities and institutions.

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