Gonna give the blog another try. Trying to get the aging career back on track. The latest is that I'm charged up about the mystery novel I'm writing entitled the Shorewater Group. For years I've been writing in forms other than poetry -- essays, plays, short stories, novels, etc.. None of it has seen the light of day.
A few weeks ago Cin Salach, one of Chicago's best known performance poets, invited me to read at her Tiger Saloon. "Read something other than poetry." I did and received a gracious and enthusiastic response. Thanks to that audience I'm charged up to finish that god damn thing. Wish me luck
After a lovely few days in Varese, the garden city of greenery (which I will speak about in another post), I'm in Torino and have just come back from a splendid walk through the old city to the river Po with my host Giacomo; traveling from public square to public square under the portal walkways. Exactly what Marc loves, walking and beholding the beauty of passing faces and old art & architecture. We rested from our walk at a cafe along the river and I was in paradise listening to murmur of the Italian language spoken around me, the birds chirping, and the strokes of oars lapping the water as boatmen propel themselves upstream.
Great fun and conversation in the evenings. Slam in Italy suffers from the same controversial issues and characters afflicting slam elsewhere in the world. It also celebrates the same joys, the major of which being the friendships (and romances) that grow out of like minded people brought together through the intimacy of poetry and performance.
Say whatever you want (good and bad) about the slam. One point cannot be denied. It has bonded people into a community (family) that would never have developed had slam not surfaced in their lives.
The Italian slam is alive and growing thanks to the good people who are pouring their unselfish their heart into it.
I'm eating a late dinner at Hotel Karol restaurant in Monza after experiencing and performing at the rebirth of the Italian National Slam. It was a great success. Marvelous audience (old and young -- rich of heart and mind). A mix of many styles. Great fun generate by the emcees. And the old man kicked ass.
The Italian slammers are struggling with the same questions slammers in other parts of the world have struggled with. It breaks to one overriding issue: should organizers make production choices that favor the poets sensibilities or choices that make the show more enjoyable for the audience. All who know me know where I stand. Poetry Slam was created for the audience. As performing poets we are servants to them. I hope the Italian slam community chooses the later. If they do their shows will grow and grow. If not they will end up like the old faulty models of poets reading to poets sans any real audience.
That's the word tonight. Now I'm going to eat my pasta and go to sleep.
Playing with Cookie
My dear friend Mark Eleveld (partner in the arts) has encouraged me to start this blog as a way to get my ass moving on creating a memoir, something I’m not sure I want to do. So, now that I know how this thing works I’ll try to keep the focus on that, little memoirs of me: Marc Smith (So What!)
Playing with Cookie
Our brief play time together took place one grade school summer. I can’t remember what began it. Cookie was a victim of cerebral palsy. It affected her speech. It affected her walk. She attended a special school. Her mother was protective. No father that I remember. She and her mother lived in a big frame house with a big front yard that had a green chain link fence surrounding it. Later in life I found out that Cookie was very smart. She wrote letters to the Tribune, had them published, and maybe formed some kind of a career as a writer as I have.
During those off-from-school, mid-summer vacations days, when finding something to do with all our free became a challenge, we developed a ritual game, something with sticks and having an obstacle to overcome. Some sort of battle against an imagined force during which she was my ally and I hers. Mid-summer friends. It never went deeper than that. It never went beyond the game. I never dared look deeper into her life. I didn’t know how. I was crippled in my own way.
It makes me very sad to think about missing the opportunity of exploring a more lasting friendship with Cookie. Those few days over that one summers were so positive. I had for a small amount of time someone who really stood by me, was on my side, in my corner, and as we fought our imagined battles together we were both heroes united in our heroic fantasies. But there’s no fooling myself now, little Marc would have never been able to overcome the peer pressure of “not being cool” to hang around with her.
Where is Cookie now? Would she remember those days of play? As I write this I’ve started tearing up thinking about them. She was such a true friend to me for that very brief span of time and some kind of love existed between us. We were both victims. She was locked in a crippled body and I was locked in a crippled heart.
Looking Back at 2008 -- Not Much of a Legend After All
From an Ex Bomber
My coach and professor warned me, don’t believe everything you hear and the adage proved true at Louder Than A Bomb (2008). As I sat listening to Mr. Marc Kelly Smith, Slampapi, speak to about thirty people attending his workshop (that never happen), I said to myself who does this guy think he is and who does he think he’s fooling?
I can’t quote him exactly (I wasn’t taking notes) but the gist of what was coming out of his head was that “slam” is not a competition. What a laugh? He said it about ten times. (I was counting.) It’s the same thing he said in the movie documentary “Slam Nation.” Maybe he’s senile. Does he go to slams? In my opinion he certainly doesn’t know squat about the thing he supposedly started.
Outside the door of the room he filled to only a third of its capacity hundreds of “kid slammers” were rehearing and planning their strategies to beat other kid slammers who were planning and strategizing to beat them. Not much community inter-mixing that day! A lot of cheering and crowd hysteria. Good thing nobody shouted ‘Burn the Bush Lovers’ because in their frenzy those kids might have climbed in rented vans (the ones that brought them to the event), raced out to Wheaton, and lynched a few reborn republicans.
And all this while Mr. Marc Kelly Smith, Slampapi, was getting teary eyed talking about how reading transformed him from being a closet sensitive to a writer of letters to a girl in high school he liked from afar but up close was too shy to talk to. Gag me.
Mr. Smith should stop pretending that the thing he started is an engine for social change and enlightenment and get real. It’s an incubator for inartistic egos, a breeding ground for competitive mania and adolescent angst, not to mention shouting out falsely-fabricated emotions like his teary-eyed self.
Yes, my coach was right, don’t believe a third of what you hear, especially at a slam, and especially from the guy who started the whole thing ranting and raging its way across the world.