Saturday, January 17, 2009

Burning Down the House by various poets

Burning Down the House: Selected Poems from the Nuyorican Poets' Cafe National Slam Champions concludes with a quote from Harold Bloom lamenting the state of the arts as the result of performance poetry. And here is a collection of some of the best of slam—a compilation of poems from the New York Champion Slam Poets including: Roger Bonair-Agard, Stephen Colman, Guy Lecharles Gonzalez, Alix Olson, and Lynn Procope. Unfortunately, this book looks and reads like a self-published nightmare including poor editing, construction, and layout. It’s hard to take slam poetry seriously when it is presented in such a slip shod manner. If this is the best out there then it should be offered in a form and format that shows it off to its best effect. And there is good stuff here, even great, perhaps brilliant. I mean, if this were crappy writing then fine, whatever. But no. I love some of these poets and poems. I would suggest reading Def Poetry Jam on Broadway or Spoken Word Revolution or Aloud to get a better flavor of what was happening in poetry in the 90s. This book just doesn’t live up to its potential unlike the poets who are included within.

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