ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Han Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Scott Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Keiko Amano
   Veronica An
   G.D. Anderson
   Zack Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Marjorie R Becker
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Kevin Berger
   Lawrence Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Catherine Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Robert Beveridge
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Heitham Black
   Jarvis Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Adam Levon Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Tony Bush
   Zachary C. Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   JR Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Adrian Ernesto Cepeda
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Terry Clark
   Phil Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Karen E. Cole
   Merrill Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conesa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Bill Cunningham
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J de Salvo
   J. de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Raymond Fenech
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Amelie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Gerda Govine Ituarte
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Grant Guy
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   Danielle Harper
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   JD Hart
   Jack Harvey
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Jessica Healy
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   David Howard
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor Infante
   Victor D. Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Tom Irish
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Kait Jensen
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Tao Jones
   Lois P. Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gary Justice
   Gene Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Bernard Kennedy
   Raud Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Elisabeth Khan
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Robert S King
   Ashley King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Julia Knobloch
   Philip Kobylarz
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Thomas KrÀmer
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Gerard Kuc
   Donna Kuhn
   Christopher Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Anne Lecrivain
   Marie Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Emma Lee
   Pete Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Anthony Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Lee Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   David McIntire
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Robert John Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   Genie Nakano
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Toti O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Jared Pearce
   E. Martin Pedersen
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Kristena Prater
   Luke Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Emily Rose
   Rina Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
   Sonya Sabanac
   Miriam Sagan
   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
   Frances Schiavina
   Kim Schroeder
   Carol Schwalberg
   Peter Schwartz
   Iris N Schwartz
   Ken Scott
   Sondra L. Scott
   David Scriven
   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   Margarita Serafimova
   Sanjeev Sethi
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
   Tom Sheehan
   Jake Sheff
   Steve Shickman
   Nancy Shiffrin
   June Shiitake
   Ferrari Silverpowder
   Rishan Singh
   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
   Bobbi SInha-Morey
   Apryl Skies
   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
   Spencer Smith
   Danielle Smith
   Clinton Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
   Richard Spuler
   Matina Stamatakis
   Jan Steckel
   Julia Stein
   Eric Steineger
   Carl Stillwell
   Bruce Stirling
   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Mani Suri
   Ann Christine Tabaka
   John Talbird
   John Duncan Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Mark Taylor
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Zev Torres
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   r.k. wallace
   toren wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
   John Wariner
   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
   Justin Weiler
   Viola Weinberg
   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   Leigh White
   J.T. Whitehead
   Claire Williams
   John Sibley Williams
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G. Murray Thomas
April 2016
   

 

Spoken Word

    In 1992 R.E.M. released Automatic for the People. The lead-off single was "Drive," a half-spoken/half-sung tune. That song told me that my life was on the right track, that my ambitions were not futile, that they were even reasonabl
    In 1992 I considered myself a poet. I put all my writing energy into poetry. My first chapbook had been published. I attended poetry readings almost every free night I had, sometimes three or four in a week. I was heavily involved in the SoCal poetry scene, which was thriving, at least as much as a poetry scene can thrive.
    In fact, poetry seemed poised to do more than thrive. It felt like it was about to explode, to become the next big thing in popular culture. Even if it had to be relabelled as "spoken word" to achieve that. This was the time of the great coffeehouse boom (before Starbucks took over); new coffeehouses opened on seemingly every corner, and every one of them hosted an open mic, usually focusing on poetry. Zines were also booming, and usually included at least a few poems. Poetry slams were gaining national attention.
    And here was R.E.M., one of the biggest bands at the time, putting out a song which was essentially spoken word. Every time it came on the radio, it seemed to confirm all my hopes and beliefs for the art form.
    It wasn't alone, either. Spoken songs were all over the radio in the early 90s. "Numb" by U2, "Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm" by Crash Test Dummies, "Screenwriter Blues" by Soul Coughing, "88 Lines about 44 Women" by Nails. Plus more obscure tunes like "Pepper" by Butthole Surfers, "Popular" by Nada Surf, and "The Sweater" by Meryn Caddell. Then there was "Detachable Penis" by King Missile; the first time I heard it on the radio, I nearly swerved off the freeway, it was so obviously a poem, just like other poems I had heard that night (I was returning from some poetry reading somewhere). Every new song I heard further confirmed my notions of what was happening, what was about to happen. Meanwhile, punk rock stars like Henry Rollins, Exene Cervenka, and Lydia Lunch were performing and recording spoken word.
    Of course, the wall between poetry and rock has always been thin and porous. From Bob Dylan to Jim Morrison, Patti Smith to Jim Carroll, Jewel to Billy Corgan, there have always been poets who aspired to be rock stars, and rock stars who aspired to be poets. In my early teens I had a book called The Poetry of Rock, which presented rock lyrics as if they were poems, along with commentary to justify this presentation.
    But this felt qualitatively different. Major, and minor, rock acts were releasing songs which not only had poetic lyrics, but which were spoken rather than sung. And the poets around me were doing something really similar.
    Since I was attending so many poetry readings, my concert attendance dropped off significantly. For most of the decade, the only concerts I went to had some connection to poetry. Although there were more of those than you might expect.
    The last concert I went to as a concert was U2 in the fall of 1992. But I still went with poet friends, and even though "Numb" wouldn't come out until the next year, we sensed that U2 had some connection to poetry. The live version of "Bullet the Blue Sky" (on Rattle and Hum) had a great spoken word section.
    Also, Public Enemy opened for them. Public Enemy was one of the few rap groups I liked. I admired their political stands, and enjoyed their wall of sound production. Unluckily, the sound mix at the show was so poor, we could barely understand their lyrics. What we could make out was political posturing. We had hoped for something like a poetry reading, instead we got a political rally.
    (Obviously, the connection between rap and poetry is even stronger than with rock music. Rap is poetry put to music. In many ways, the existence of rap helped lay a foundation for the spoken word scene. Still, if rock music in the 90s showed the influence of the spoken word scene, with rap the influence mostly flowed the other way. That is, poetry in the 90s was heavily influenced by rap. Many poems I heard were essentially raps without the music. This influence only grew through the decade, especially in the slam scene.
    However, for a variety of reasons, I never got into rap. Perhaps I never gave it the attention it deserved. Maybe I'm just too hard wired for screaming guitars. So, in my personal history here, rap plays a very minor role.)
    In the spring of 1993 I saw King Missile at the Coach House (San Juan Capistrano). The opening act was a local band called Shrinky Dinx, who certainly put on a memorable performance. The lead singer ran all over the room, eventually trying to literally climb the walls up to the balcony, all dressed in just a speedo. Musically they weren't impressive at all, but they did have a huge following, which packed the place. A year or two later, they changed their name to Sugar Ray and achieved a solid, if brief, celebrity.
    Sadly, when they were done, their fans all left, leaving King Missile to play to a nearly empty house. They still managed to impress me with their combination of spoken word and shredding hard rock, but the energy had completely gone out of the room, and I could tell they felt it.     A year later, MTV put on a "Spoken Wurd Tour," with John S. Hall, the leader and poet of King Missile, on the bill. Also included were Maggie Estep, Reg. E. Gaines, and Gil Scott-Heron. It played at the Troubadour in L.A. This was, obviously, further sign that spoken word was gaining currency in popular culture. MTV had played the occasional poetry video over the past year, and now they had thrown their support behind a national tour of poets. Maggie Estep and Reg E. Gaines had both come out of the NY slam scene. Both performed with musicians, Estep with hard rock, Gaines with hip-hop. Interestingly, Hall, the one who had an active band chose to perform by himself. (When it came time to perform "Detachable Penis," Hall recruited an audience member to read the actual piece, while he prowled the stage repeating "Detachable Penis.") Gil Scott-Heron was a soul/blues singer best known for     "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," a semi-hit from the mid-70s. He seemed out of place in the show, a different generation and a very different style from everyone else on the stage. Perhaps he was there to attract an older crowd, and/or to lend a sense of legitimacy to the event.
    I enjoyed the show, though it was notable more for the strength of its production than of its poets. I heard work just as good, or even better, regularly at readings around town. But these poets performed on a major stage, one of L.A.'s most notable nightclubs. That in itself was significant.
    About this time, I started publishing Next..., a monthly newsmagazine about the SoCal poetry scene. Part of my motivation was the notion that poetry was exploding, and that explosion would need a magazine chronicling it. Being a magazine publisher gave me entry to a number of cool events.
    The 1994 Lollapalooza tour (headlined by Smashing Pumpkins and Beastie Boys) included a spoken word tent. I attended two shows, one in San Diego on a press pass, and one in L.A. as a performer (I had won the spot through a local slam). Both days I spent the majority of my time in the poetry tent; I had to do a write-up on it after all. In San Diego, I did sneak away to watch Shonen Knife, the all-woman Japanese punk band who understood punk, despite its reputation, was really happy music, so they sang about bicycles and candy.
    The San Diego poetry tent closed early enough to catch the Beastie Boys, who impressed me much more than I expected, though more for the music than the words. On the other hand, Smashing Pumpkins disappointed. I watched about half of their set that night, and then headed out to the parking lot to beat the crush. In L.A. I thought I'd give them a second chance, but when they played the exact same set, I left at exactly the same point (just after they played "Disarm," a song I did like).
    In 1995, Long Beach (my new hometown) held When Words Collide, a spoken word festival, which played a lot with the crossover between rock music and spoken word. Among the performers were Patti Smith, Dave Alvin, and Ed Sanders, all delivering poetry rather than music. It was great to see Patti Smith deliver a full set of poetry (very transcendent poetry at that); she did close with a couple of songs, including "Dancing Barefoot." Ed Sanders opened for her; he was one of the founding members of The Fugs. The Fugs were, to greatly simplify, an East Coast folkie version of the Mothers of Invention. They also pushed their musical forms to their weirdest edges, while engaging in cutting lyrical satire. Sanders did have some musical backing, both prerecorded and of his own making, but his performance was also primarily words.
    Another night I caught Dave Alvin, G. Love, and The Watts Prophets. The Watts Prophets rose out of the 1965 riots, and presented a combination of music and poetry which was often cited as an inspiration for rap. They reunited in the aftermath of the 1992 riots, to a new found popularity. G. Love performed a solo set of folk-rap. Dave Alvin, founding member of roots rockers The Blasters, and occasional member of X, told stories of poverty in suburban Downey, with no music at all.
    The intersection of poetry and music dominated my listening over the next few years. This was largely the result of my deep involvement in the poetry scene, both through my own writing and performances, plus the needs of my magazine. But the connections were readily available; I didn't have to look too far to find shows which included both, together and separately.
    At the 1996 Taos Poetry Circus, Ray Manzarek backed up Michael McClure with some very Doors-like piano playing, which fit perfectly with McClure's spaced out, meditative poetry.
    Later that year I attended/covered an event called The Ringling Sisters Fun Raiser in Hollywood, which included a mixed bill of poetry and music. Henry Rollins headlined with a spoken word performance, which was basically an extended rant. The other spoken word act was the Ringling Sisters themselves, three well-known members of the L.A. poetry scene "Pleasant Gehman, Iris Berry, and Annette Zalinskas " who presented a sort of girl-group version of poetry. The rest of the bill was filled with local, but well known, musicians: Mike Watt with Nels Cline, Flea, Possum Dixon and Phranc. While many of them didn't make a huge impression on me, standouts were Phranc, who described herself as "just your average Jewish lesbian folk singer," and Mike Watt, who turned in a truly explosive set.
    The highlight of this period for me was discovering John Sinclair. Actually, I was already well aware of Sinclair. He was a true 60s counter-cultural icon. He managed the MC5, founded the White Panther Party, and got thrown in jail for possession of two joints. John Lennon even wrote a song about him ("Free John Sinclair
" off the Sometime in New York City album). But now he had a new incarnation" a blues historian.
    Sinclair delivered spoken word pieces about old blues masters over appropriate blues riffs, courtesy of his Blues Scholars. The Blues Scholars were actually a rather amorphous group of musicians, depending on which city he visited, and what musicians he knew there. The L.A. version included Wayne Kramer, one of the guitarists from the MC5, so they delivered a particularly hard rocking version of the blues. I caught three different shows by them over the course of a year or so. Two were in clubs (House of Blues Hollywood and Fais Do-Do), but the third was, memorably, in a Borders Bookstore. They did not tone things down for the bookstore, so it made for an exciting show.
    I interviewed Sinclair for Next... (in the Borders before the show, in fact). It was a fascinating interview, although he refused to discuss any of his work in the past, caring only to focus on what he was doing at the time. In the most memorable part of the interview, he discussed what he called "the world of 2000," by which he meant artists who could sell 2000 copies of whatever they put out (book, album, etc.), enough to live on, but not enough to have any real impact on the culture at large. A world which includes even the most successful poets, as well as most musicians making any sort of living off their art.
    I also caught a number of local bands in connection with poetry readings, sometimes as part of the show, sometimes because they played the same venues. There are too many to list here, and since none of them broke big, the names will mean nothing to you anyway. There were several bands fronted by poets. Most notable were two bands fronted by poet/singer Matthew Niblock (now known as Matthew Mars), The Clear and Superman Loses the Girl, either of which should have been huge.
    Partially because of poetry becoming my primary interest, and how much attention I paid to its intersections with rock music, I stopped paying much attention to what was popular in music. But it's also true that I simply didn't find much on the radio to interest me. Rock music post-Nirvana just didn't seem to have much to offer me. There were exceptions, of course, but I certainly didn't follow it like I once had generate some attention to, and respect for, it in the general culture, but never enough to be huge. And not enough to sustain my magazine, which folded in 1998. Freeing me to go back to attending concerts, if I could only find something worth the price.

copyright 2016 G. Murray Thomas