Jukebox Sunday 2: Yusef Komunyakaa, Eyedea, Anticon


Jukebox Sunday 2 is here with some poetry videos and poetic music for you fine folks. And just a warning, I'm feeling a little nostalgic for hip hop today.

Let's start out with a little poetry fun. Billy Collins' very entertaining poem "Lanyard" is as good a place as any. We'll meet back up with poetry at the end with Yusef Komunyakaa.

Sean Bonnette's escaped the trap that we built to capture him last week, he's been spotted in this recording of the AJJ song "A Poem" which has one of the better poetry-related lines in recent songs: A poem is a song, that no one cares about, except the writers of the songs that we're all singing"

Let's move toward some poetic indie hip hop from 20 years ago, everyone's favorite! I know it's one of mine, at least! Anticon was a tremendous force of poetry in the hip hop scene and Sole was one of its co-founders. One of my favorite albums from that era was Sole's Bottle of Humans, and this is its title track.

Now a bit more abstract, here is alternative/indie hip hop supergroup Deep Puddle Dynamics formed of Slug, Sole, Doseone, and Alias, and their 1998 song "Scarecrow Speaks"

And coming around via Slug to one of my favorite little hot spots of music, Minnesota Hip Hop, here is the Eyedea & Abilities song "Sky Diver"

While we're with Eyedea, one of my favorite emcees, legendary lyricist, freestyler, battler etc etc. here is a song from his Oliver Hart project, this song is called "How Much Do You Pay" and it has some recordings of a very well-known homeless man from the time in Minneapolis who played a bucket and was very friendly.

As we transition back towards poetry let's do that through Atmosphere's anaphoric list song "Scapegoats".

Dipping back to Eyedea's Oliver Hart for this minimalist narrative rap "Step by Step"

OK, Back to poetry. This is a writing blog after all. Here is a short video of Yusef Komunyakaa talking about when a poem is finished, more specifically, he gives a little insight into the revision process that is quite useful. 

To add to what Mr. Komunyakaa says, I also am wary of the beginnings of poems. Sometimes it can take a stanza or two even for a poem to find its feet, to discover what it's trying to say, what truth it's trying to highligh about the human condition or whatever, and this can often be rectified in editing, sometimes that opening needs to be hacked off. I just chopped the opening stanza of a poem I'd been sending out and had been proud of and I couldn't feel better about the excision. And finally we'll end with a short film made by the filmmaker Iriana Rucker for Komunyakaa's poem "Slam, Dunk & Hook".


Bonus Writing Exercises: You didn't think you'd get away without writing a poem did you? 

1)Take inspiration from what you've listened and use either a setting, a turn of phrase, an object, something from one of the songs and write a piece based on that.
2) Look up the lyrics to your favorite of those songs at Lyrics Genius and make an erasure poem from those lyrics.
3) Look up the lyrics to your favorite of those songs and find a line to use as the epigraph for a piece of writing. The quote usually will be a pithy way to 'sum up' some aspect of your piece, or just be related in a way that the quote informs the piece.