The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

REVIEW: PORTLAND POETRY SLAM – SO, WHAT? (Where Are You Press)

SoWhatPoetry

From “A Letter From My Well-Adjusted Adult Self (Whenever That Will Be) To My Current Mid-Twenties Self” 

To get out of bed on a good day with depression,

the ghost of your hope still needs to hop up first,

pick up the frame,

and shake you out.

– Leyna Rynearson

I feel pretty honored to live a mere 15 minutes from where the Portland Poetry Slam takes place every Sunday night. I’ve been a regular audience member for the last year and a half, and have watched the scene evolve and grow, and take off like a jet plane toward a better, ever loving, ever supportive community. The four members of the 2014 National Poetry Slam Team from the PPS, includes the current two Slam Masters (Leyna Rynearson and Doc Luben), along with Button Poetry viral video all-star Alex Dang, and Huffington Post sensation Brenna Twohy. None of them are unfamiliar with the large stage of a National Slam Poetry event, and placing in the top 25 out of 70+ teams this year was an amazing accomplishment!

From “Broken Tongues”

She speaks Chinese.

He dreams Vietnamese. I speak repaired tongue.

I dream renovated dialect.

– Alex Dang

To better familiarize themselves with the Portland audience, and beyond, the team put out So, What? (Where Are You Press), a collection of poems from each member. This collection beautifully represents what is seen each week at the slam: honest, no-bullshit, gut punch poetry, that will leave you not only deep in thought, but active in conversation about what you’ve heard, or in this case, read.

From “Fantastic Breasts and Where to Find Them”

…my sex is magic,

it is part of a bigger story;

I am whole,

I exist when I am not fucking you,

and I will not be cut into pieces

anymore.

– Brenna Twohy

After all, the goal of most writers – and in my opinion, especially poets – is to place words in front of you that make you think about your own life, and the world around you – to find some way to relate to the audience. That is exactly what So, What? has done. These four poets have found a way to dig into your personal life, and not only share with you their own experiences, but remind you that you can move past darker times, or family struggles, or ignorant people. It is possible to conquer anything, and these pieces are a great reminder of that ability.

From “The Golem”

…and when you fight back,

punch back, talk back,

they snap to attention

gather like a blood clot

one becomes three becomes seven,

mother-pressed collars and teeth,

cornering one scared fat boy

who didn’t even know yet what the word faggot meant

and asking me what my parents do for a living,

do they work days or work nights

because we wanna make sure they are home

when we set your house on fire.

– Doc Luben

 

Grab your copy of So, What? from Portland Poetry Slam at Where Are You Press.

About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

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