May 31, 2011 |
NEW YORK - Musician Gil Scott-Heron, who helped lay the groundwork for rap by fusing minimalistic percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry on songs such as "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," has died. He was 62. He referred to his signature mix of percussion, politics and performed poetry as bluesology or Third World music. But then he said it was simply "black music or black American music. " "Because Black Americans are now a tremendously diverse essence of all the places we've come from and the music and rhythms we brought with us," he wrote.
May 13, 2011 |
I don't believe President Obama is an apologist for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the killer of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. In October 2008, after reading Internet speculation that as president he would intervene on Abu-Jamal's behalf, I asked then-Sen. Obama whether he'd ever taken a position on the case, and if not, whether he intended to. "I haven't, only because the details of this event I've never studied," he said. "I'm vaguely familiar with the fact that there's been a controversy around it. So let me just lay out a very clear principle: In my mind, if somebody killed a police officer, they deserve the death penalty or life in prison.
April 28, 2011
By Todd R. Nelson In a school, poetry abounds as spontaneous expression. One of my favorite poems echoing around school recently was not something the kids learned in class, the school play, or hip-hop songs (though we do hear plenty of those). It was a poem about math and counting, in a cadence just right for jumping rope: Cinderella, dressed in yella Went downstairs to kiss a fella. By mistake, she kissed a snake! How many doctors did it take?
April 27, 2011 |
Phoebe Snow, 60, a bluesy singer, guitarist, and songwriter who had a defining hit of the 1970s with "Poetry Man" but then largely dropped out of the spotlight to care for her disabled daughter, has died. Ms. Snow, nominated for best new artist at the 1975 Grammys, died Tuesday morning in Edison, N.J., from complications of a brain hemorrhage she suffered in January 2010, said Rick Miramontez, her longtime friend and public relations representative. Known as a folk guitarist who made forays into jazz and blues, Ms. Snow put her stamp on soul classics such as "Shakey Ground," "Love Makes a Woman," and "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" in a recording career of more than a half-dozen albums.
April 24, 2011
By Louis Zukofsky New Directions. 846 pp. $24.95 Reviewed by Bob Perelman The reissue of Louis Zukofsky's long poem "A" is a most welcome event. In the innovative regions of the poetic universe, Zukofsky is a major presence: Thanks to the enthusiasm of figures such as Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, and the Language poets, there now is a population of admirers who will be glad "A " is back in print. For most of Zukofsky's career such an outcome would have seemed highly implausible.
April 24, 2011 |
Philadelphia is poetry town. "The city has a heartbeat," says poet Elliot Levy, 17. "You can go to coffeehouse open mics in Philly suburbs and be 20 minutes away from poetry slams in the city. There are poets from every different background here. . . . When you put all this together, you get something beautiful. " Nowhere was that energy and diversity on better display than at the Philadelphia Poetry Festival 2011, hosted by the Mad Poets Society at the Free Library. The idea was to bring together "all of the Philly poetry organizations that we can fit into one auditorium," in the words of Mad Poet Autumn Konopka.
April 17, 2011
By Ross Gay University of Pittsburgh Press. 80 pp. $14.95. Reviewed by Thomas Devaney Ross Gay's second poetry collection, Bringing the Shovel Down , is an artfully honest book. Many of the poems are direct meditations on violence, compassion, and questions of conscience. Gay, now an assistant professor of English at Indiana University, grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and earned his Ph.D. in American literature at Temple University. It is revealing that his book offers two versions of the title poem, setting up conflicting ideals that run throughout the collection.
April 11, 2011 |
It's a profound sense of failure and disappointment that keeps Garrison Keillor taking a fresh approach to writing and narration. While telling a story verbally, Keillor told a captivated audience last night, a narrator inevitably leaves out a seemingly minuscule detail that could lend the story much greater depth, and meaning. "You try doing it again, and that's what keeps you doing it for 34 years," the straight-faced, bespectacled humorist told a sold-out crowd Monday night at the opening event of the fifth-annual Philadelphia Book Festival.
March 21, 2011 |
If dance is poetry in motion, it follows that some dances would offer the clarity of elegant verse and others, a more-challenging-to-follow complexity. The three works on this year's edition of SCUBA, the grassroots dance touring program that includes Philadelphia Dance Projects, are on different spots on that continuum. Seen at Temple University's Conwell Dance Theater on Friday, they formed a useful snapshot of where younger dance artists are heading and yielded some exhilarating moments of movement and, yes, poetry.
March 4, 2011 |
To write poetry, the instructor says, it is important to see. And in Poetry , Lee Chang-dong's achingly exquisite portrait of a woman's struggles with family, with forgetting, and with a terrible crime, the camera observes and records the sweet, sad rhythms of the world. Mija (Yun Jung-hee) is retired, in her 60s, living in a small apartment in a suburban town with her grandson, Wook (Lee David), a lumpy, disaffected middle schooler who emerges from his room only for meals.