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NON-PROPHECY 8/29/03
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21537
NON-PROPHECY 8/29/03  Reply with quote  

My first National Poetry Slam was in 1998, in the wonderful city of Austin, TX. It was first time taking a plane somewhere with the purpose of performing, and it was damn exciting. I let myself be a sponge to every moment, and I was left with some very strong memories.

One of the first things I witnessed was a tall man in a dress performing poetry on stage to a bunch of skeptics. I looked at the people I was with and we were all like, "Hey...isn't that a prop rule violation?" Hahaaa. Apparently not, because he dresses like that all the time. It just seemed weird, because the dress was the only thing feminine about him. No make up, no effeminate mannerisms, no purse...just a lanky dude in a dress, and he was comfortable enough in it to make the garb seem incidental.

He went by the name of Ms Spelt.

Due to his extremely personable nature, I became acquainted with this Ms Spelt, and every following year at Nationals I had the priveledge of discussing music and politics with him. Last year Ms Spelt, donning an impressive independent mohawk, was given "The Spirit of the Slam Award" by the slam community. The tears just kept coming. We all cried. As he explained the recent death of his father while accepting his award, we all cried...and that made us feel better somehow.

This year's Nationals left much to be desired for me, but Ms Spelt recently made a post on the Slam Listserve that I would like share with you all. I want to share it because it helped make sense of my own situation, and I intend on referring back to it whenever people challenge me on why it is I do what I do.

I took the liberty of paraphrasing certain parts and fixing some spelling, because it seemed that he wrote it in a passionate fit. Most of what I am sharing with you are the parts that make sense to me and echo my own sentiment.

Here it is:

"I make zero apologies for myself or anyone else who stares bigotry in the face and tells it to fuck off.

And I don't shed too many tears for people whose noses get put out of joint by such things.

My first nationals (NPS) I went to the capital of texas and paraded around in dresses day and night--case in point.

I fully support those who raise their voices against oppression and
bigotry.

By all means hurl the rock against Goliath. But that's not enough. In that wonderful story, David is armed not just with the rock but with his Faith. And there is more. He knows exactly where to place that rock. He knows exactly how to fight Goliath. And he takes the leap of Faith that what he believes is the right thing thing to do-challenge Golitah...the stone placed just so.

I've seen plenty of poems that throw the rock. I haven't seen as many that
slay Goliath. Show me a poem that slays Golitah and I'm on my feet with tears
streaming down my face.
I've become tired of JUST stone throwing.
Part of what tires me is that time has taught me that whenI used to do it, I was seeking to be righteous.I was looking for a way to stand on the stage with authority and righteousness. Self righteousness in the face of oppression is relatively easy.

It was about me trying to get something for myself (not even
for my community really) and that was a problem...I hadn't yet learned what I know now: All art worth considering is inherently generous in nature. It must be a
gift freely given of yourself.

When a poet stands in front of Goliath, as shepherd boy David did to protect his flock, and puts his very being on the line to do it, that's an inherently generous act.

It's pure.

The rock flies true.

I welcome "political" poems even though I don't write that many myself these
days because it's hard to do them and keep my aim true. My anger clouds my
vision and clouds my ability to aim. But when I can aim true and address an
important social issue with something that goes beyond mere ranting I do.

Also, part of that aiming process is enlisting the audience in your piece and keeping them with you.

Take for example my piece about watching my father die and watching my mother take his ring from his finger after his last breath. One could say that the poem is about the sanctity of marriage, and having someone as queer as myself read
such a thing could certainly be seen as political, but that isn't what I'm after nor
where I aim.

I simply bear witness as well as I can and I have had to teach myself how to
stand in that room in that memory and watch him die again. It has taken
work. But as a result of that work, a crowd of people can now stand there with
me and feel that pain without turning from it. I am their guide and I keep
them safe there. So even though they may be uncomforatble they are secure and
they stay with me. They bear witness to the truth in the pain and they do not
flee to return to the room of the cafe where I am reading. They do not return
until the poem is done. If I faulter, they will bolt and then I will be stuck
there in that pain all alone until I am done the poem, and they will be sitting back
withdrawn from me. When I get back, emotional exhausted, I return to a
crowd that is not with me and hasn't been with me for most of my piece. I am
alone and wasted on stage.
ouch.

I think many people feel attacked by pieces that aren't as well aimed as
they could be. They aren't enlisted as allies or given the room to have an
epiphane of growth. They are presumed to be the enemy...and then taken for an uncomfortable ride where the guide cares not one whit for them. The inevitable response to such work is alienation from the speaker.

A craftsperson figures out a way to take you to that place and bear
witness to say-matthew sheppard's murder. The poet allows your heart to break,
the poet holds your hand and says, "look, let your heart break open for this boy. Become this boy. Feel compassion, feel the anguish and frustarion of those left behind.
Become them. Become queer even though you are straight. It is okay to shed tears here. Let down your guard."

As Voltaire once wrote, "It is more important to be able to seduce than
conquer," and that's where my preference lies. The poems that seduce you into
being more enlightened. The poems that seduce the enemy into an ally...

much love
ms spelt

Angus Adair"

ms_spelt@hotmail.com


Last edited by Sage Francis on Fri Aug 29, 2003 12:53 am; edited 2 times in total
Post Thu Aug 28, 2003 11:38 pm
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hugh grants hooker
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holy shit.

does he have any recorded material available sage?


P.S. if you ever get me all emotional again. so help me... :pumps fist:
Post Thu Aug 28, 2003 11:49 pm
 
FoJaR



Joined: 06 Feb 2003
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Location: VA.
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Post Thu Aug 28, 2003 11:50 pm
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DM



Joined: 05 Jul 2002
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Location: www.NERDTORIOUS.com
............  Reply with quote  

Awesome. This is why I come here.

abacus
Post Fri Aug 29, 2003 12:12 am
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squirtisblow



Joined: 12 Mar 2003
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good shit man..
Post Fri Aug 29, 2003 2:06 am
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maxamillion



Joined: 05 Sep 2002
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Eventhough I probably missed a lot because of the language barrier(??) I still found that very breath taking....


Thanks.
Post Fri Aug 29, 2003 2:24 am
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Jim Nastic



Joined: 29 Dec 2002
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Location: SF CA
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ditto!?
--nastic
Post Fri Aug 29, 2003 2:28 am
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Nope



Joined: 23 Jan 2003
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I liked the concept of throwings stones/slaying the giant type shit

cause all I do is throw stones

I didn't really connect with the rest...guess I'm dumb
Post Fri Aug 29, 2003 2:37 am
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Machiavel



Joined: 30 Oct 2002
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Dont worry random, i didnt really connect with most of it either. I think its mostly because im not enough of an activist, and i dont really cry about things.

Its not that i couldnt really understand it i just didnt identify with it.
Post Fri Aug 29, 2003 3:22 am
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Perspective



Joined: 18 Aug 2003
Posts: 436
Location: Finland to UK
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Wow... that was an interesting read. I don't cry when I hear or read poetry, but it doesn't mean that i don't find them inspiring, or emotionally manipulative, but it's pretty great to hear about people like that who really believe in the strength of words.
Post Fri Aug 29, 2003 4:12 am
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Raindeer hunter



Joined: 29 Aug 2003
Posts: 6
re:  Reply with quote  

maxamillion wrote:
Eventhough I probably missed a lot because of the language barrier(??) I still found that very breath taking....


Thanks.
Second that. I didnīt understand much of it, but it sure was emotional.

I especially liked this part..
Quote:

Part of what tires me is that time has taught me that when I used to do it, I was seeking to be righteous.I was looking for a way to stand on the stage with authority and righteousness. Self righteousness in the face of oppression is relatively easy.

It was about me trying to get something for myself (not even
for my community really) and that was a problem...I hadn't yet learned what I know now: All art worth considering is inherently generous in nature. It must be a
gift freely given of yourself.

When a poet stands in front of Goliath, as shepherd boy David did to protect his flock, and puts his very being on the line to do it, that's an inherently generous act.

It's pure.
If I didnīt get this all wrong, I think Ms Spelt hit the nail on the head with that one. I hope more artists would realize this. Artists today are like "gimme $20 per rock I swing at Goliath and weīre cool". More artists today use art as a tool to get something to themselves, and imo, thatīs not what art should be. Itīs not a generous act or gift freely given of yourself, like ms Spelt put it. Art should be something apart from capitalism and business. Iīm sure that this is far from where ms Spelt was coming from, but whatever. I donīt know how the David vs. Goliath story went, but I sure the people from the flock were generous enough to somehow pay David back after he stood against Goliath : )
Post Fri Aug 29, 2003 4:55 am
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i remember him from the 2000 National Poetry Slam

there pictures of him posted here.

http://www.poeticdream.com/photo/photo39.htm
Post Fri Aug 29, 2003 5:41 am
 
Jesus Frank



Joined: 12 Jul 2002
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Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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I was with this. Very interesting guy, very good read. This does definitely apply to Sage.
Post Fri Aug 29, 2003 6:56 am
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21537
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I don't know if he has any recorded material, and I have never even read his work so I don't know if he actually has a chapbook out.

but his email is there for you to contact him if you would like to.
Post Fri Aug 29, 2003 1:46 pm
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jehu



Joined: 25 Aug 2002
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very nice.  Reply with quote  

that was beautiful. its hard to put that kind reasoning into words.

why you do what you do.

1
Post Fri Aug 29, 2003 1:58 pm
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