Saturday, April 17, 2010

A poem for the weekend

I stumbled upon Taylor Mali's poetry because of a link to one of his poems posted by a friend on Facebook. For this weekend, I am posting one of his poems that I liked a lot.

This one appealed to me because it's about a topic that I have strong feelings about. Are you irked by people who frequently use "like" and "you know?" and "ya'know what I mean?" while speaking? R u mad @ ppl who wrt lke dis? (Especially when there is no 140 character limit?). Well, then you will like this poem:
Totally like whatever, you know?
By Taylor Mali

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?

Declarative sentences - so-called
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true
as opposed to other things which were, like, 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?
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.
Taylor Mali is a poet who emerged from the Poetry Slam movement. The Wikipedia article on Poetry Slam introduces the concept as:
A poetry slam is a competition at which poets read or recite original work (or, more rarely, that of others). These performances are then judged on a numeric scale by previously selected members of the audience.
Typically, poetry slam is highly politicized, speaking on many issues including current social and economic issues, gendered injustices, and racial issues. Poets are judged not only on the content of their slam but the manner of delivery and passion behind their words.
It seems to me that because of this background Mali's poems are more akin to "performing arts" than literature. To truly enjoy one of his poems, you have to see it being performed. So here is a video of Taylor Mali performing his poem "Totally like whatever, you know?".

Another hilarious one by Mali - "The impotence of proofreading":

More videos of Taylor reading his own poems can be found here. Some of his poems here

Bookmark and Share

No comments: