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Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam Paperback – November 20, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-1933368825 ISBN-10: 1933368829

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (November 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933368829
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933368825
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #425,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature" -- Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate 2001-2003

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. -- School Library Journal

"A serious history with just the right amount of dirt." -- Gillian McCain, co-author of Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk

Throughout the book, Aptowicz seems like a cool older sister with the inside scoop on the hottest pop-cultural phenomenon this side of the 20th century. She steers clear of academic analyses of the poetry world, opting instead to familiarize the reader with all the relevant controversies and debates surrounding slam, including the oft-touted accusation that slam is all show and no content...

Words in your face is perfect for slam newbies and fans of the Big Apple's seemingly endless supply of alterna-history tales. And for established fans, Aptowicz's juicy info on the competitive underbelly of slam gives an extra punch to an already perfectly researched read. -- BUST Magazine, April/May, 2008

About the Author

CRISTIN O'KEEFE APTOWICZ is the author of four books of poetry -- Dear Future Boyfriend (2000), Hot Teen Slut (2001), Working Class Represent (2003) and Oh, Terrible Youth (2007) (all The Wordsmith Press) -- and is the founder the three-time National Poetry Slam Championship venue, NYC-Urbana. Aptowicz has enjoyed commissioned residencies with Chamber Dance in NYC and the Sydney Opera House in Australia, and has toured with her work throughout North America and Australia. She lives in New York City.

More About the Author

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is author of the nonfiction book, DR MUTTER'S MARVELS: A TRUE STORY OF INTRIGUE AND INNOVATION AT THE DAWN OF MODERN MEDICINE.

She is also the author of six books of poetry -- THE YEAR OF NO MISTAKES (2013), EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING (2010), OH TERRIBLE YOUTH (2007), WORKING CLASS REPRESENT (2004), HOT TEEN SLUT (2001) and DEAR FUTURE BOYFRIEND (2000), which are currently available on Write Bloody Publishing -- as well as second book of nonfiction: WORDS IN YOUR FACE: TWENTY YEARS OF THE NEW YORK CITY POETRY SLAM, which Billy Collins wrote "leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature"

Her recent awards include the ArtsEdge Writer-In-Residency at the University of Pennsylvania (2010-2011), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry (2011) and the Amy Clampitt Residency (2013). She lives in Austin, TX, with her two eccentric rescue dachshunds, Max & Alvy.

For more information -- including tour dates, videos of performances and links to her work -- please visit her website at www.aptowicz.com.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Jones on March 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a lively book of literary history--a mix of interviews, historical background, and funny sidebars / sidenotes. The mix of styles, as well as Aptowicz's awesome sense of humor, make it a fast read.

Aptowicz is one of the most important people in the NYC slam scene, and her insider perspective is very useful. She discusses all the poets in a friendly, non-judgmental way. And she doesn't shy away from observing (and recording other's observations) about why people don't like or don't care about poetry slam.

Along with Marc Smith's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Slam Poetry, Words in Your Face is a must-have for people involved in the poetry slam community and for people who want to learn more about it. Experts will learn something, and newcomers will be able to follow along.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. McGoo on November 20, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This engagingly-written volume leads the reader though two decades of the an exciting literary phenomenon---slam poetry. It explains the slam methodology, provides portraits of the some of 'pioneers' and new performers, and positions slam poetry in a broader cultural context.

This could have been a dreary academic exercise, but the author's breezy style pulls you in and moves the narrative along at a sprightly pace. Her ability to draw out her interviewees results in insightful nuggets of history about the growth of slam.

All in all, this is a must-read for anyone interested in a vibrant and growing segment of the spoken word community.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By K. Eyer on January 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book provides a completely engaging narrative of the history of slam poetry in NYC. I was given this book by my husband -- as an infrequent reader of non-fiction with only a marginal interest in poetry slams, I did not expect to finish it quickly. The book was so engaging that I wound up finishing the last 100 or so pages in a single marathon reading session. I highly recommend it! The author does a fabulous job of blending together a truly fascinating narrative with in-person interviews with key figures in the NYC slam scene.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Scott Woods on September 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
This completely engaging and informative tome of New York poetry history cannot be exalted too highly. Pulling from a variety of sources, experiences and locations to give a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of poetry slams - and New York's key part in developing them - this book gives the perfect balance of lesson, gossip, epistle and documentary. With interviews and back story set down by Cristin Aptowicz - someone firmly placed in the heart of the movement - the book stands alone in its comprehensiveness and testimony to what makes Slam so powerful.

A wholly engaging read for even a cursory fan of poetry, and a must-read for any poet interested in developing their work, their scene or their career.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William Abbott on June 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a great book for anyone interested in poetry (and not just slam) in recent years. It deals with both the good and the bad of slam, covers some history of the beats, and interviews lots of key players from the area. The controversies, the stories, the personalities: it's all there. Whether you're interested in Saul Williams or Taylor Mali, Paul Beatty or Bob Holman, this is a great read.
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