As the entertainment
director at my campus coffee house
, I try to schedule a good number of open stage nights (we're too cheap to buy a microphone
and have open mic nite
). I love public performance, and try to encourage as many artistic endeavors as I can, even when traveling internationally
I'd have to say that one of the biggest problems I run up against, both in others, and in myself, is a sense that the words of a person born and raised in the suburbs can't write poetry with integrity, unless it's about trees or a dream or something. I'll admit, it's hard to live up to the cultural pressure to keep things street when you've never even been there.
People who get into poetry are famous for having low self-esteem, as countless archives of bad teen angst poetry hold testament to. There have been times when I've been literally afraid to write in my poetry notebook, lest I produce horrible verse or a rant that seems too pouty.
My prescription for this horrible form of writer's block is to take some time out and get over your fat self. Produce mountains of crap, if that's what it takes to get a few gems to drip out of your pen. My experience at open stage has taught me that people enjoy light and hokey stuff now and then, so don't be afraid to just be silly. And keep it in mind that growing up in the city does not make you a deeper person, or less of a poser.
As an example, Louie Thoreaux, a middle class British reporter who has worked with the BBC and Michael Moore among others, currently has a show on the Bravo network called "Louie Thoreaux's Weird Weekends," where he goes around and explores different areas of subculture in the way that only a BBC reporter can. In one episode, Louie decides to become a gangsta rapper. By the end of the show, Louie has learned about the lifestyle from rappers like Master P and pimps who are trying to rap their way off the street, and takes his knowledge to a radio rap contest in New Orleans, which he wins.
Here's a portion of Louie's rap:
I'm six-foot-two in a half back--
But luckily the seats roll back
Keep it real.