Saturday, July 19, 2008

GV7 Documentary Review

GV7:Random Urban Static is a two hour DVD featuring fifteen performance oriented poets from the United States. Included in the mix are two time national slam champion Sekou (the misfit), LA Slam Masters Mollie Angelheart and Natalie Patterson, two time grand slam champion Bridget Gray, and many others. Poets and their performances are cut with interviews that connect performance poetry to hip-hop, question the importance of race and sexuality in performance poetry, and discuss the reasons behind performance poetry. The performances range from the wild and outloud, with Common Ground (Angelheart and Patterson together) getting right in the viewers face, to the deeply personal, whether it be The Lindz weeping or Nick Lopez’s nasal performance and introverted headturning, to the humor of Tony award winning Poetri and even the obscure and bizarre Eric Haber.

What was interesting, and what makes Bob Bryan’s film less of a "movie" or a "production" and more of an actual documentary was that there didn’t seem to be a message across the poets. Each poet was represented as an individual, with their opinions, beliefs and experiences allowed to interact and contradict. The movie opened up a discussion and didn’t try to pigeonhole any poet into a “performance” mold. Where one poet insists upon the poem working on the page, another poet insists that performance poetry is entirely focused on performance to the point that she doesn’t write her own work down. Where one champions directness and accessibility, another celebrates the bizarre and random. One defends the hip-hop connection to performance poetry, and another advocates breaking away from that connection and some of the negativity it brings to performance poetry. This discussion opens up the idea of performance poetry as an evolving movement with many voices, and not necessarily a static entity with no potential for growth or change.

As an educational tool, this DVD invites students and teachers into the conversation and provides them with an idea of what is happening in the world of performance poetry with out being too overwhelming or too flashy. It also connects the poetry to the academy, as certain poets (Tim’m T. West and J. Walker) speak about their educational backgrounds and how that has influenced what they do in performance. While some of these poets are slam poets, this documentary also shows other aspects and venues for performance work, whether it be Hunter Lee Hughes shaking his entire body to his poem, Nick Lopez reading over a film, or even Jessica Healy taping her poems to bathroom stalls.

For more information about the DVD, visit:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

& unspoken


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau