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Spoken Word Poetry
Transcript of Spoken Word Poetry
Elements and Techniques
"What Teachers Make"
"Totally like whatever, you know?"
Has society become so, like, totally . . .
I mean absolutely . . . You know?
That we’ve just gotten to the point where it’s just, like . . .
And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness
is just a clever sort of . . . thing
to disguise the fact that we’ve become
the most aggressively inarticulate generation
to come along since . . .
you know, a long, long time ago!
I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY.
You have to speak with it, too.
In case you hadn’t noticed,
it has somehow become uncool
to sound like you know what you’re talking about?
Or believe strongly in what you’re saying?
Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)’s
have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
Even when those sentences aren’t, like, questions? You know?
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true, okay,
as opposed to other things are, like, totally, you know, not—
have been infected by a totally hip
and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know?
Like, don’t think I’m uncool just because I’ve noticed this;
this is just like the word on the street, you know?
It’s like what I’ve heard?
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay?
I’m just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?
What has happened to our conviction?
Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
Have they been, like, chopped down
with the rest of the rain forest?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
He says the problem with teachers is
What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?
He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true
what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.
I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.
Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.
I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor.
Be honest. What do you make?
And I wish he hadn’t done that— asked me to be honest—
because, you see, I have this policy about honesty and ass-‐kicking:
if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.
You want to know what I make?
I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor
and an A-‐ feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time
with anything less than your very best.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
To the biggest bully in the grade, he said,
“Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?
It’s no big deal.”
And that was noblest act of courage I have ever seen.
I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.
You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math
and hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you’ve got this,
then you follow this,
and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this.
Here, let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
Teachers make a goddamn difference! Now what about you?
Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored.
And you don’t really have to go to the bathroom, do you?
I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
Hi. This is Mr. Mali. I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something your son said today.
*Slam poetry performer
*Been on seven National Poetry Slam teams
*Influences include Billy Collins, Saul Williams, Walt Whitman, Rives, Mary Oliver, and Naomi Shihab Nye
*Most well known poem is "What Teachers Make"
*Spent nine years teaching English, history, and math at various schools
*Former president of Poetry Slam Incorporated
*Retired from the National Poetry Slam competition in 2005,
As a class, decide on a topic. Then, write a phrase about the chosen topic.
As a class determine how to put the poem together (we are creating a found poem).
Using spoken word techniques and your interpretation of the poem, perform the poem for the class.
By: Kelsey Briddell and Kim Gonzalez
What is a Poetry Slam?
Competition where poets read / recite their own original works. The performances of the poets are judged based on a numeric scale by members of the audience.
Poetry Slam, Inc.
The official non-profit organization that oversees the international coalition of poetry slams.
-Lives in Yorkshire, England
-Has published ten volumes of poetry
-His first piece of poetry was published in 199
-Currently is a senior lecturer at Metropolitan University in London
-Awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Potsmouth
-Elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
Top 5 Unique Facts
* Armitage has won the Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize for 2010
* Lead singer of the band The Scaremongers
* Leader of BAFTA (British Academy of Film
and the Television Arts
*Before he started writing, he was a probation
officer for 6 years
*in 2010, he walked 264 miles from Scotland to England,
giving poetry readings in exchange for food and bed. He is
writing a book about his experience.
"It's never going to be very mainstream.
One reason is that poetry requires concentration,
both on the part of the write and the reader.
But it's kind of unkillable, poetry. It's our most ancient
art form and I think it's more relevant today than ever,
because its one person saying what they really believe."
Simon Armitage Interview
Armitage's style can be described in 4 words :
Vernacular of native Northern England
Spoken word poetry is poetry that is written on a page but performed for an audience. Because it is performed, this poetry tends to demonstrate a heavy use of rhythm, improvisation, free association, rhymes, rich poetic phrases, word play and slang. It is more aggressive and “in your face” than more traditional forms of poetry.
-Use of concrete language
* not required for group activity
"Kid", Simon Armitage
Mali's style can be described in 4 words :
Facial and body gestures