April is National Poetry Month! The LRC is celebrating with a documentary screening and a display that features poetry from students, staff, and faculty. Come by the LRC today to contribute a six word poem to the PoetTree…
The LRC also sponsored a viewing of the documentary Louder Than A Bomb, which follows the stories of young Chicago-based poets as they navigate the spoken word poetry slam scene. If you missed the screening, the film is available for checkout.
We also have a variety of poetry collections that are available for checkout:
Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings by Joy Harjo
From Publishers Weekly: Big but fast-moving, and inviting as it expresses tenacity and outrage, Harjo’s first collection of verse since her 2012 memoir, Crazy Brave, will please her fans. Harjo’s long lines, short prose paragraphs, and song-like lyrics record her Muskogee heritage, her love of jazz (“there’s something about a lone horn player blowing ballads at the corners of our lives”), and her high hopes for poetry itself, which creates a means of personal rescue (“we sang our grief to clean the air of turbulent spirits”) and a new moral high ground (“songs that aren’t paid for/ By the money and influence/ Of rich, fat, corporate gods”). Harjo records and performs music frequently, but some of the songs here do not translate well to the page (“One day I will be tough enough/ One day, I will have love enough/ To go home”). The book is not a new-and-selected, though some nonsong poems have previously appeared in earlier books and may find new life here. Less predictable are pages about living, landscape, and Native heritage in Hawaii—her part-time home—and pages about her visit to “the lands named ‘Alaska’ now”: these verses and anecdotes give the volume its freshness, even as they take part in Harjo’s larger project of Native, and human, solidarity.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
From Publishers Weekly: Written in verse, Woodson’s collection of childhood memories provides insight into the Newbery Honor author’s perspective of America, “a country caught/ between Black and White,” during the turbulent 1960s. Jacqueline was born in Ohio, but spent much of her early years with her grandparents in South Carolina, where she learned about segregation and was made to follow the strict rules of Jehovah’s Witnesses, her grandmother’s religion. Wrapped in the cocoon of family love and appreciative of the beauty around her, Jacqueline experiences joy and the security of home. Her move to Brooklyn leads to additional freedoms, but also a sense of loss: “Who could love/ this place—where/ no pine trees grow, no porch swings move/ with the weight of/ your grandmother on them.” The writer’s passion for stories and storytelling permeates the memoir, explicitly addressed in her early attempts to write books and implicitly conveyed through her sharp images and poignant observations seen through the eyes of a child. Woodson’s ability to listen and glean meaning from what she hears lead to an astute understanding of her surroundings, friends, and family.
Poetry Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry edited by Gary Glazner
From Library Journal, January 2001: “Poems ask only that they be heard, which is the purpose of the slam,” Bob Holman says. It has been ten years since Glazner produced the first National Poetry Slam (perhaps best described as a competitive reading), but many poetry enthusiasts remain virtually unaware of the phenomenon. This volume collects an assortment of slam poems and articles about the slams (setting up, judging, becoming participants, and group pieces). Some articles, such as Lisa Martinovic on using props or Daniel S. Solis on slam aesthetics and strategy, are elemental but extremely useful, while Patricia Smith’s brilliant piece on persona poetry adds little to the concept of the slam. Adding to the confusion is the growth of the audience for slams and the broadening of their scope to include many poets published by the academy. Are these the same poets whose poems work perfectly well on the page and would not readily be labeled “performance” poetry? Contributors’ notes would have been useful. “Good slamming starts with good writing,” Solis states, although at times the material here seems closer to stand-up comedy. It’s not perfect, but, considering how sparse slam literature is, this book should prove an asset to all poetry collections.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly with “Soho Weekly News,” New York
Happy Reading and Writing!