Why are we as artists creating systems that are based in our current social system and still saying that we go against the grain? Why are we creating mentors and apprentices and continuing the dominant/submissive roles that have already been set up for us in society? Why do we have to see each other as superior or inferior, and why do we pit ourselves against each other as if claiming our superiority gives us some kind of upper hand in the world? Why do we claim ownership over others simply because we have “taught” them some of the tools of poetry? Why do we claim ownership of the poetry itself? Why are we more interested in the product than the process? Why are people regurgitating what they heard on CNN at open mics and adding no personal perspective on the matter? What happened to self expression – Self being the operative word? It’s always noble to talk about the struggles and triumphs of the world, but what good is it if it’s not coming through your own unique self perspective?
Why aren’t we challenging the system by creating a community where all ideas are equally valuable or at least equally respected? Why aren’t we creating learning circles instead of creating the separation of audience and performer, teacher and student? The circle is constant. The teacher is the student is the teacher. If you have come to a place in your art where you truly believe that no one has any knowledge to offer you, then you have missed the whole point of what sharing is and should maybe stop for a moment and ask yourself what your intention is when you get up to speak.
I have actually had a conversation with Mark Smith, the founder of the first poetry slams and he told me that when they started the slams, the intention was not to create competition between the poets, but instead to encourage the audience to become actively engaged with the poets and their words. I’m not blaming the mediocre cliché “yelling poetry” on slams, but I’m not convinced that coaching people to write poetry or mentoring them in the art of slam is nurturing their natural talents. I do believe in giving people the necessary tools so they can empower themselves to write and find their own unique expression of their thoughts, feelings and experiences.
I know this isn’t cut and dry. But I feel we all need to think about our role in the creation process, and ask ourselves what are we doing to perpetuate the things that keep us stagnant? And what are we doing to relieve ourselves from the restraints of our current state?
Now the question has been asked maybe we should use some of our “revolutionary” thoughts to come up with some answers.