Process and Edginess
Whitehead and Slam Poetry
Twenty-six ways that process philosophers and theologians
can be nourished by the Spoken Word Movement.
1. It brings words to life.
Spoken word usually tends to focus on the performance of the words themselves, the dynamics of tone, gestures, facial expressions, and more. Poetic components such as rhyme, repetition, slang, improvisation, and many more elements of poetry can be woven to create an atmosphere the audience can experience.
3. It is courageous.
Each poet has a unique perspective and view of the world that no one else has. It is important that a spoken word poem embodies the courage necessary to share one’s self with the rest of the world.
5. It is edgy and vulnerable.
Born in 1986 in a Speak Easy in Chicago and currently sweeping the world’s theater and art scenes, spoken word is a high energy, no-holds-barred performance art that addresses edgy, vulnerable topics. The range of writing styles can span from hip-hop to prose, punk rock to comedy to monologue and beyond, and no previous experience is necessary.
6. It is satisfyingly intense.
Spoken word poetry is poetry that is written on a page but performed for an audience. Because it is performed, this poetry tends to demonstrate a heavy use of rhythm, improvisation, free association, rhymes, rich poetic phrases, word play and slang. It is more aggressive and “in your face” than more traditional forms of poetry.
7. It blurs boundaries.
While spoken words artists have much in common with music and many cross the boundaries between the two art forms, we also have a powerful relationship with the written word. We simply choose to present it differently, making use of the physical skin script and the semantics of performance as much as the words on the page. But we are all also essentially writers and (drum roll) readers too.
9. It raises big questions concerning God and life and metaphysics.
10. It has attitude.
Attitude – “No attitude, no poem!” Feelings and opinions are the “stuff” poetry is made of – Each poet has a unique perspective and view of the world that no one else has. It is important that a spoken word poem embodies the courage necessary to share one’s self with the rest of the world.
11. It's better than marijuana.
13. It builds creative communities.
14. It is a crucible for empathy.
Spoken word poetry allows you to be anyone you want to be. You can write a poem in the “voice” of someone or something other than yourself or with a personality trait that is different from your own.
15. It is creatively transforming.
17. It deals with tough issues.
19. It's not just for old people.
SLAMbassadors UK, the national youth slam for 12-18 year olds has now been running for over a decade – that’s more than ten years of exhilarating live events, showcasing of new talent, professional development for contestants, and the involvement of participants across a wide spectrum of faiths, backgrounds and abilities. We continue to aim to involve as many young people as possible in reading, writing, and performing poetry.
20. It challenges capitalism.
22. It's better than seeking death.
The ability of poetry to create connections between the academic and various widely influential national, ethnic, gendered, economic and religious conversations seems crucial at the present moment, a moment holding in its multiple conflicts the dynamic capacities either to open a new global epoch of relational possibilities for human lives, or to close us into narrower selves with the too familiar preoccupation of actively seeking one anothers’ deaths.
23. It overcomes privilege.
24. It is an invitation to feel things.
"A poem invites you to feel. More than that: it invites you to respond. And better than that: a poem invites a total response...The response is total, but it is reached through the emotions. A fine poem will seize your imagination intellectually -- that is, when you reach it, you will reach it intellectually too -- but the way is through emotion, through what we call feeling."
25. It's a lot like jazz.
2. It helps explain how the world is falling apart.
4. It opens up a third space.
Imagine a space where multiple voices are heard, feelings are named, identities are performed, and creativity is unleashed -- for the sake of a world that can be creative, compassionate, just and participatory, with no one left behind. In such a space there's room for healthy competition but not for violence.
8. It promotes the republic of stories.
"We are in the midst of seismic cultural change. In the old paradigm, priorities are shaped by a mechanistic worldview that privileges whatever can be numbered, measured, and weighed; human beings are pressured to adapt to the terms set by their own creations. Macroeconomics, geopolitics, and capital are glorified. . .In the new paradigm, culture is given its true value. The movements of money and armies may receive close attention from politicians and media voices, but at ground-level, we care most about human stories, one life at a time.”
12. It helps people become fat souls.
By S-I-Z-E I mean the stature of [your] soul, the range and depth of [your] love, [your] capacity for relationships. I mean the volume of life you can take into your being and still maintain your integrity and individuality, the intensity and variety of outlook you can entertain in the unity of your being without feeling defensive or insecure. I mean the strength of your spirit to encourage others to become freer in the development of their diversity and uniqueness. I mean the power to sustain more complex and enriching tensions. I mean the magnanimity of concern to provide conditions that enable others to increase in stature."
All you really have to remember about Fat Soul Philosophy is that a fat soul is a beautiful soul. In the process world view, God is the very Soul of the world, the ultimate instance of The Fat Soul, the One who lures us and all creation toward widening circles of Beauty. God yearns for beautiful relationships of earth and sky and people and turtles. God yearns for us to know that we are all of a piece, all deeply interwoven and wholly beautiful in our differences.
16. It's persuasive but not coercive.
Coercion vs. persuasion is a term used to compare tactics. It is the description of two possible means to an end. Ideally, nonviolence works by opening the heart of the opponent, in other words, by persuading them to voluntarily change their belief or action. Coercion on the other hand, employs threat power so that one person feels they have no option but to surrender. Although the process of persuasion may take more time, it is less likely to lead to a cycle of retaliation or revenge. By using persuasive means instead of coercive ones, the positive effects of a nonviolent action are much more durable. When bullied into submission, it is human nature to fight back at the earliest opportunity.
18. It's not just for white males.
21. It gives God a voice.
Process theologians are famous for thinking that God is the poet of the world. By this we mean that God is continuously active in the world through fresh, energizing possibilities for thinking, acting and being in the world. Put differently, God is a vast reservoir of life-giving poems ready to be heard into speech, ready to be performed.
26. You can even do it in church.