Poetry: Azeem

It’s National Poetry Month and here is my favorite poet of the month.   Azeem.  We see a lot of writing about cute poets with education credentials and then someone like this brilliant Azeem fellow comes along and says a few things into a camera and reminds everybody that poets can shoot word bullets. I watch this video and my heart starts pumping and I get fidgety and I want to leave my chair and get to know words as well as this guy knows them.  I noticed Azeem because he is one of the few subscribers to my YouTube film channel and so I checked him out.  I’m extremely impressed.  You want people to be interested in poetry?  Show them this guy and they’ll be interested in about 5 seconds flat.  I think what makes most poets uninteresting to the American reading public is that they all secretly have an image of a bookshelf in mind.  Bookshelves are fine if you are browsing for a book, but they are death for anyone who’s making something.  Azeem is also working with some hugely talented filmmakers who make fantastic imagery and do it with ease.  If he comes to Los Angeles, I want to know about it and go see him play.

Set a Blaze:

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I’m Gonna Beat You With My Poem

I’m about to show you why I have so few friends.  It’s because I don’t put up with ‘team mentality.’  Hey kids, come over here and join my poetry team!  Yeah dudes!  Get with it!  Get hip to my dang poetry team, bro!  We could win!  We could take the whole prize, sista!  Yeah, baaaaaaby!

I’m the kid eating the Twinkies, picking my nose, twirling the Frisbee on my finger and looking at you like you’ve got a gun.  That’s me.  You scare me, poetry dude.

For some reason, in our young national culture, we enjoy teaching our children to compete via talent shows of all stripes.  Since it’s National Poetry Month, the Louder Than a Bomb demo video caught my somewhat jaundiced eye.  I put up with it all the way through even though it made me squirm.  Poetry as in your face talent competition doesn’t fit my world view.

Right away the video starts out with total obnoxiousness.  The guy says, ‘We de-emphasize the competition, but you want to win!’  A-hole.  What an idiot.  Kids, remember, always run from a guy that says something like that.  Run and don’t look back.

I feel the same way about film festivals, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and the Academy Awards.  I even feel the same way about online writing contests, though I’ve hosted them myself.  They are intended to boost traffic on a web site.  They serve no real purpose and offer no true value at all.  Contests are held to make mediocrities feel like they can hand out prizes.  A kid who is going to be a poet is going to leave by the back door every time.

Animation: Khabrahol (From Russia’s Toonbox Studio)

From Russian animation studio Toonbox comes this marvelous animation based on a poem by Sasha Svirsky. I don’t understand a word of it but I love the sound of it. I really must find the woman who does the voice-over.  She is just magnificent and totally fearless.  The drawings are fascinating.  The rhythm is catchy.  Toonbox does so many of the best animations that I see.  They seem to balance their commercial projects with artistic ones very well.

Via Cold Hard Flash

Film: Typography

In Ronnie Bruce’s short film Typography, poet Taylor Mali lets it all hang out about how people talk today. Hipsters. Kids. Cooliodoolios who don’t want to sound too committal about anything. Every utterance is just a little fart with a question mark at the end. ‘You know?’

I don’t happen to have this problem with sounding non-committal and all like you know laid back. I get in trouble because I talk too much like a guy who’s swinging a baseball bat. But, uh, you know, in an era of fake Bush wars and a ‘liberal’ president who tells me I’m going to have to buy insurance from a murderous private company or else… well, hmmm, like, dude, I’m swingin’ my verbal bat just as hard as I want and I’m hoping to hit someone in authority. The Tea Party folks are idiots, but there’s one thing they’ve got right. Obama is so over, he’s, like, you know… done.  Obama reminds me of a school principal.  Never says anything worth listening to.  He’s got the dullest eyes I’ve ever seen on a president.  Notice that?  Blank.  Even Bush had expression.  Always terror.  Sheer stark raving terror radiated out of Bush’s little monkey eyes.  Obama radiates the pause between pre-planned comments – the ‘umm’ moment.

Of course, when people suddenly get very clear, direct, self-assured and forceful in their statements you know what happens, right?  You get Hitler.

Poetry Is? It’s a Stupid Question, That’s What.

In my poetic web adventures I went and found this big long movie by George Quasha about poets trying to tell everybody what poetry is. What is poetry? It’s not an unanswerable question. It’s a stupid question. But these poets do try to answer it. It’s a rather long movie and I always look for a bad guy in every movie. Without a bad guy, a movie just makes me hungry and I get up to go to the bathroom a lot. These poets are all so nice and content looking. So friendly and comfortable. I can’t find out which one is the bad one. Someone once asked me a really stupid question and I ran away with his camera and threw it in the river. Why aren’t any of these poets nasty and depressed? What makes them so pleasant? They all sound like their favorite piece of furniture is a podium.

Here’s a guy who if you ask him what poetry is will very likely give you a good reason to never ask that question again:

Get what I mean?