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L’Atelier du Plateau is a little neighbourhood theatre on top of hilly Belleville, near Parc Buttes Chaumont. After going down a narrow, cobbled-stoned cul-de-sac, one enters one, large white painted room under a high ceiling. A bar and a small kitchen (serving for the occasion quiche lorraine, vegetarian pizza, each for 3€, massalé de fruits de mer 7€ and gateau chocolat, also 3€), occupies a corner of the room, while low chairs circling red, oriental carpets marking the “stage” take up the rest of the space.
Every sixth week or so, the slammeur and rappeur Dgiz hosts a slam poetry session here. Last Monday – the blue, blue day after the elections – it was packed, with more people standing than sitting. While many presented newly written texts about the elections or at least made reference to it, the example I will give here did not. (The lyrics of “Destiny” ).
Ucoc was one of the first slammeurs I discovered. Late a Friday night in early June 2006, I was standing in the open doorway in the tiny bar Plex y Glass in Rue Oberkampf, when a screaming man fought himself through the crowd right towards me. I had just returned to Paris after an adventurous trip in the suburb Fontenay-sous-Bois (find the post here), where I had attended my (second) first soirée slam. Ucoc’s colère (anger) convinced me instantly that finally, after many months of searching, I had found a focus for my research. As I post more videos here, it will be clear that Ucoc has a very particular style… Enjoy, or bon courage.
The saxophonist is the jazz musician Louis Sclavis. (The cellist Vincent Courtois did not play on this track).
The introduction to slam, I can thank a person I had just met on a punk concert, just around the corner from where I lived at the time, in support of the accused after the anti-CPE protests (labour law) some months earlier. After discussing the protests for a while, he said – despite having participated in them himself – that he would like to introduce me to something that was far more important than street protests: poetry! (after quite a few months of dissatisfaction with this incomprehensible society, I had finally started to like it, so a comment like that pleased me immensely). A few days afterwards, he, a friend and colleague of him and the anthropologist headed for the suburbs and back to town again – and since then I haven’t been a week in Paris without attending at least one soirée slam…
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