From Publishers Weekly
Given that it documents an oral medium, this collection has to be judged mostly by its accompanying CD, with the print text secondary. Narrated with forced garrulousness by slam paterfamilias Mark Smith, the disc begins with an introduction from poet laureate Billy Collins, which gives way to a Quincy Troupe piece (with slick guitar accompaniment), filed under the odd designation "Beat Remnants." That term is also applied to decidedly nonperformance poets Edward Hirsch (who literally phones in a poem with correspondingly poor audio quality) and Marvin Bell, who gives an arid, audience-less studio performance. Things pick up with Slam star Saul Williams's pro performance and 1999 slam champion Roger Bonair-Agard's electrifying and often hilarious alphabetic poem. Of the 50 poets in the book, 20 make it onto the disc-which is 75 minutes long and features 46 cuts, a good third of them interjections from Smith. A few book-only poets, like Thomas Lux, offer essays or commentary rather than poems. Despite this collection's shortcomings, it should be seen as just one take on a various and magisterial art; its appearance heralds spoken word's further entry into the marketplace, a presence that should spread logarithmically over the coming years. Cognoscenti will grumble at this or that choice, and one might hope for a DVD next time, but as an introduction for neophytes, this package more or less gets the job done.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Poetry began as an oral tradition and has circled back to its "live" roots in a movement known as the spoken-word revolution. Thanks to the innovators profiled in this delineating anthology, poetry is now performed, often competitively and quite dramatically, in front of large and enthusiastic audiences in bars and coffeehouses all over the world. Editor Eleveld, a high-school teacher in Joliet, Illinois, cofounder of EM Press, and an eloquent champion of spoken-word poetry, has joined forces with Smith, the acclaimed Chicago-based poet and creator of the poetry slam, to trace the evolution of spoken-word poetry from the Beats to rap, hip-hop, and performance art. The result is a dynamic and clarifying volume chock-full of fresh and informative commentary by the likes of Billy Collins, Marvin Bell, and Jerry Quickley and an exciting array of knock-out poems by Patricia Smith, Tara Betts, Jeff McDaniel, Roger Bonair-Agard, Bob Holman, Regie Gibson, DJ Renegade, Jean Howard, Luis Rodriguez, Saul Williams, and many more. Eleveld and his contributors not only celebrate the verve, artistry, and significance of performance poetry but also anchor it firmly within the splendid, age-old, and life-sustaining universe of poetry, where it so rightfully belongs. And speaking of spoken, an accompanying CD presents poets performing their work. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved