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Today I’ve had a quick look at two extremes of the French slam phenomenon. First, I went to an atelier slam in a local activity centre ( Centre d’animation) close to where I lived until August. For two hours every Tuesday, MC Tsunami, the orchestrator of various slam soirées and host of the website planteteslam.com, leads a workshop for youth in Eastern Paris. (However, as he told me, and as I could observe myself, most of those coming have strictly speaking passed the age of youth).
The workshop so rewarding for a novice to poetry that the anthropologist felt a bit torn between participation and observation, but concluded that she wasn’t completely up for playing with la langue de Molière et al. yet. However, I did learn some important features of poetry concerning alliterations (repetition of particular syllables or consonants – a frequent means in French poetry as the articulation is based a lot more on syllables than e.g. English and Norwegain…) and phases (particular phrases or segments of phrases). (Right now I listen to Grand Corps Malade’s at-least-300000-copies-selling album Midi 20, where I just heard him describe himself as just “amongst loads of others, a simple seeker of phases”). I’ll return to syllables, alliterations, phases and the rest of the poetic universe when I get more into it…
Amongst other subjects they discussed and practiced, there was of course also a discussion on slam is and is not (it’s to share and to appear in front of others… – interestingly, the battle aspect which defines slam poetry in the USA, where also the word originates from, has much less importance here in France).
Then over to the other extreme end of the slam phenomenon (which indeed has taken off during the two months I’ve been away): After the atelier at the community centre, I hurried up Boulevard Voltaire (still 11th Arrondissement) to the concert venue Le Bataclan to try to get a ticket to Grand Corps Malade’s show (not slam, since a show doesn’t imply exchange…, as they all say, including GCM himself). Even though Le Bataclan houses a few thousand, and GCM is on stage for 9 evenings between 3rd and 14th October, I could not get a ticket, not even on the street, which has worked well before. The queue for entering was winding far down the pavement and it comprised men in suit and tie (perhaps they hadn’t had time to change after work?) and women in party dresses and hair full of hairspray, to grandparents and children going with their family. With the price ranging from 29 to 39€, it wasn’t surprising that the audience looked a bit different from the slam soirées I’ve been hanging around at. And it looked even more different from the extremely varied audience at the monthly sessions GCM himself hosts at a local cultural centre – centre culturel – in his native banlieue Saint Denis. (For those interested, GCM can be seen in the background to the right on this photo).
As it was sold out today, I’ll not have the chance to see GCM when I’m here this time. Tomorrow, I’ll be at La Guinguette Pirate for another round in the qualification for the slam championship taking place in December. (On Saturday, I was at the qualification round at La Milonga, in the banlieue Fontenay-sous-Bois (94)). On Thursday, I can choose between the weekly slam soirée at Café de Paris (not sufficiently à la mode for having their own website...) and a live show (thus not slam! ☺ ) called “The slam was better before”, apparently with some of the old guys in the game, just around the corner from metro Belleville. (Anyway, I’ve already missed out on a couple of the slam related events popping up all over eastern Paris at the moment: …I was thinking of making a list, but as I quickly looked through all the flyers I’ve got hold of, I realise that I don’t bother…).
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