Category: "Music, literature, arts..."


Finally a slam poetry video: Ucoc at L’Atelier du Plateau

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.

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Discussing slam poetry on TV and the schism in French slam

When I was contemplating a title for this post, the first thing that came to mind was the revolution will not be televised (Gil Scott-Heron’s eternal phrase). This association might seem a bit far off, but watching TV as rarely as I do, makes me surprised how crappy that medium is to pass on intelligible and sensible information. (Apropos French elitism versus Norwegian anti-elitism which I wrote about some posts ago; stating that one doesn’t watch TV is commonplace and almost expected in my circles in France, in Norway on the other side it’s seen as verging on elitism :D )

The show in question is a 30 minutes “debate” on French slam between four slameurs and an interrupting and not very knowledgeable journalist, called “Slam: from the bistro to the telly” (Slam: du bistrot à la télé). It was broadcasted 13.11.06 on France 3, and to my knowledge it’s not widely discussed in slam circles, and when it’s brought up it’s mostly in order to diss the fourth participant, which will also be my subject in this post (in addition to dissing TV in general)… I found it on the Internet here. In addition to a lot of interruptions and all-speaking-at-the-same-time (typical French TV entertainment), it also contains some throwing of water and some short slam performances. I’ll give a short résumé…

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01:24:49 amCategories: Fieldwork, Music, literature, arts...

L’anthropologue se cache pour écrire…

Friday 9th of March, Café Culturel, Saint Denis (93)
This evening I should have been on the 129H’s monthly slam session at Lou Pascalou, in Rue Panoyaux next to Metro Ménilmontant. 129H is one of the older slam collectives. I’ve seen the members around on various events, but not yet on their monthly open microphone soirée.

However, I’m almost a little relieved that I finally have caught the Parisian spring cold, so I can spend a few days at home, trying to catch up with what has been going on the last week. I’m starting to get the reputation of being on all events “everywhere”. It’s a nice reputation to have, but very tiring indeed to keep up with….

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Art in the suburbs

Slameur and musicians in a forum culturel in the suburb

Following the Parisian slam scene immediately led me to the suburbs. During my 9 months long first stay here, I crossed la pheripherique (ring road) only five times (except to go to the airport). Three times in the summer I attended open microphone slam events; two in Saint Denis (by Stade de France which one can se on the way to the airport) and one in Fontenay-sous-Bois (to the south east). Saint Denis is well connected to the metro system, Fontenay-sous-Bois is not, and it was a true galère to get there, according to one I travelled with. (One of our adventures dans la galère, I recounted here in Nouvelle France).

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11:15:00 pmCategories: Music, literature, arts...

Slameurs - and one slameuse - on the web

Every night there are several soirées slams taking place. The scene has completely exploded since I started following it 8 months ago, and certainly since I had my first peek into it at a quite shabby bar in Rue de Bagnolet more than a year ago. The slam is still going on in shabby bars, but it’s also found its way big time onto the Internet.

Télérama, a French version of the British Time Out has put 6 nice videos on their site, here. I would particularly recommend Sandra and Le Slam (with the duo performing AC! En nos âmes et consciences which I wrote about here).

The bar Divan du Monde up in Montmartre (the cradle of Parisian slam) is having great slam soirées once a month hosted by Caroline Carl, and they put all the performances on internet: see here.

Last week-end there was some kind of hip-hop award going on, where slam was a category (which I’ve not heard anyone talk about). I’ll add the link here, because it includes one of my personal favourites Souleymane Diamanka. (The others are also worth checking out. Abd Al Malik represents a strange phenomenon, by the way. I think he’s great, but strangely the term slam were not connected to his name before it became an advertismenent asset…. Read an interview with him in Danish(!) here –thanks Monica, for the link :) ).

The reason why Souleymane is my favourite can be found on his site on myspace here: Le poète se cache… It’s sooo beautiful.

UPDATE ON SOULEYMANE DIAMANKA: All the lyrics from Souleymane Diamanka’s forthcoming album L'Hiver Peul (out the 10th of April), can be found here, together with an extensive biography, touring dates, extracts of the songs etc. The biography contains some information of the oratory arts amongst the people Peul in Senegal transmitted to the French suburbs obviously representing such a goldmine for an anthropologist that it’ll surely result in a new post soon. (It also appears that Souleymane participated in the inauguration of the controversial (ethnographic) arts museum Quai Branly (site in English!)…).

The 10th of April is also the release date for the anthology of poems written together with John Bansaï, J’écris en français dans une langue étrangère (“I write in French in a foreign language”).


01:46:35 amCategories: Places, Music, literature, arts...

Slam at Louvre (me in Oslo)

As some might have discovered, I’m not exactly flooding this site with new texts at the moment. That’s because I’m busy writing some other stuff (in fact nothing less than starting on la grande oevure which will be my thesis in due time…), before I’m off for Paris again in a few weeks. Right now, sitting in my green coach, googling for some information for a text I must hand in over the weekend, I wish I were already there. Not because writing this text is so terrible, not at all, but because Toni Morrison has been at Louvre, and last Friday she invited along a number of slam poetry artists to slam about classical French paintings and about being étranger chez soi (translated “a foreigner’s home”).

The free newspaper 20 minutes has published a quite nice photo series of the event.

I found the series here (while searching for Café Culturel in Saint Denis for my text in fact). (Excellent site for finding info on the French slam scene by the way, but I’ve got to get back to my text to be handed in soon, no more getting lost at the web for me…).

Well, just one more remark: The French urban art forms seem finally to get a little bit of highbrow acknowledgement. The day I left Paris, at the 13th of October, Le Grand Palais (Eng.) invited in the street, and dedicated a whole weekend to rappers, skaters, graffiti artists, and yes, slammers: La rue au Grand Palais. – A lot to be said about this, of course, but not now.


I just found out that Mary Stevens has written an interesting post on another event during Toni Morrison’s residency at Louvre in her excellent research blog. Amongst other things, I learnt that it’s not the English title “A Foreigner’s Home” that is a strange translation of the French, it’s the other way around:

From the start, the title chosen by Morrison for her residency caused much debate. In English the title is ‘The Foreigner’s Home’; this has been incompletely rendered in French as the much more limited ‘Etranger chez soi’. The use of the apostrophe makes the English much more interesting: it implies both possession and a temporal relation (’the foreigner has come home’ - and hence is perhaps both foreign and no-longer foreign at the same time). It could also perhaps be read as a comment on the nature of museums, particularly in the post-colonial context. In addition, the English seems to me to place the emphasis on the concept of home, whereas the French stresses the ‘etranger’.


01:21:50 pmCategories: Places, Music, literature, arts...

More poetry

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, 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).

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12:57:22 pmCategories: Peculiarities, Music, literature, arts...

Theatre: “In our full conscience and honesty”

Sunday I went to see a poetry performance at a theatre: AC! En nos âmes et consciences (“In our full conscience/honesty”) – Since the audience don’t participate and perform their own texts, it’s not slam, as the two poet performers explicitly told us yesterday. The distinction between slam sessions (democratic and interactive) and poetry shows is important and stressed by many artists. However, many of the recent newspaper articles on slam don’t seem to get this distinction for some reason. –

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