Paul Flores reads from Saul Williams’ The Dead Emcee Scrolls

Paul Flores had a great talk at USF today- THE LEGACY OF AUTHENTICITY: From the Anti-establishment Beat Movement to the Mainstreaming of Hip-Hop. The time line he presented, making a direct correlation from Ginsberg’s Howl to Saul Williams’ The Dead Emcee Scrolls, was a well presented study of the complexities of Hip-Hop. For me, the time line is more jazz fuels Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance, which then fuels Bob Kaufman, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and the Beats, which then fuels Amiri Baraka and the Black Arts Movement, right to to Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” which is where hip-hop poetry (even before the term hip-hop comes to be) is born.

Previous to this talk, I considered Saul a mutli-genre performance artist who used slam poetry to launch his acting and music career and then never looked back. This is no hate, you can hear Saul say as much in the film Slam Nation and also find similar comments in his interview in Words in Your Face. After Paul’s talk and his reading of the passages in the videos below, I think I will be looking for The Dead Emcees Scrolls next time I’m in a good used bookstore.

Barbara Jane Reyes reads "We, Spoken Here"

Great reading at Pegasus Books tonight. I caught some great videos that I’ll be posting during the week. First off is Barb reading one of her “We, Spoken Here” poems. I love how this poem uses the text from General Taguba (his repeated mention of the “We”) as the launching pad for this litany.

Side rant: I am all for found text and subverting headlines, but I find it disappointing when a poem that desires to be “political” uses that text as bland stand alone lines or as the rally point of the poem. A poem like Barb’s “We, Spoken Here” or Evie Shockley’s “Torture” are great examples that a poem doesn’t need a headline to be political but can use a headline to make us examine the political.