Category: "Slam/Performance poetry"


Time to get it out!

The last entries in this blog will concern what probably ought to be the final part of any research project: getting the material out and beyond a blog like this and the narrow circles of colleagues and the odd conference.

The first media to pick up on my finished thesis its defence was an art and culture program on NRK P2, the Norwegian equivalent to BBC Radio 4 or France Culture (or perhaps somewhere between the latter and France Info, since Norway can never come up with anything as high brow, philosophical and educational as France Culture…). I liked that it was this particular radio channel, and that it was the literary and arts aspect of the work that caught their eye, not the sociological or political. They wanted me to cycle down to their studio and talk about my project, experience, scientific treatment and its conclusions. My very first radio interview went quite well. They even made me spontaneously recite the poem I had performed a couple of times at slam sessions in Paris. I still find it quite touching to do that. The clip starts with an extract of Enfant de la ville by Grand Corps Malade (read interview about the album in French here), which is very typical of the most famous French slam artist, and perhaps also of French slam in general, as it treats the artist’s relationship to the city. At the end of the clip, Grand Corps Malade appears again in A la recherche where he is featured by two grand old men in French rap, Kery James and Oxmo Puccini. This is not very typical of the genre, but I think the journalists thought it worked well on the radio.

Here’s the clip: Kulturhuset, NRK P2, 27.09.12

The day afterwards, another of my favourite Norwegian media, Klassekampen, phoned for an interview. (It’s only accessible through logging in to something). The journalist is probably one of the most familiar with French literature and society here, and I appreciated her headline: “ Accuses the state from the stage”.



Preparing for the defence: Areas of weakness

Forum, Roma January 2012
Exploring the drinking fountains at Forum Romanum at 23 January 2012, at the day my thesis was finished printed and handed in to the department of social anthropology, and one day before I turned 40

The project and the PhD are now completed. In order to also wrap up this research blog, I’ll see if I can find the time to conclude a couple of unfinished posts as well as finishing it all with a description of the defence, or viva, itself. As this blog has followed me all the way from Ménilmontant, 8 October 2005, it feels right to do it this way. At the same time, I feel a bit in a hurry to conclude all this now, as I’m so eager to get on with other things, many of them of course related to this large project.

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The Stage is all the World, and the Players are mere Men and Women: Performance Poetry in Postcolonial Paris - What it is, and the questions it answers

Yesterday afternoon, an email popped up with the names of the members of the evaluation committee and a date for the possible public defence. It came completely out of the blue, as I was sure this process would take ages. And also, until I read the names of the two women who will scrutinise and judge it, and decide whether I’m ready to become a doctor or not, I think it hadn’t been really real to me that the work is coming to a conclusion. If everything goes well, the defence will take place in first half of June, which means that the verdict of the committee should be ready in early May. After that, preparation will probably occupy more and more of my time, particularly when the theme of the trial lecture is settled, two weeks before the defence. That leaves three months from now where I can get on with my new project. I feel a definite need however to sum it all up before I put the pile of sheets (it won’t be properly printed before it is accepted) on the shelf for a while.

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Pieces into place: Décroissance, another life and another politics – And making sense of the data

(Writing is progressing so fast now, that I’m not able to keep up here. This post I wrote several weeks ago, but haven’t found a free moment to post it before now. I’ll try to find some more time to keep up the blog in this final stage, as it would be good to document this part of the project as well. I’ll see what I can manage.)

Smaller and larger parts of the puzzle find their place at the moment. Phenomena that have only flickered past my attention in a superficial, disconnected manner suddenly add up to a larger picture.

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11:00:43 amCategories: Slam/Performance poetry, Writing

What can people learn from your research?

Yesterday, I had to answer the question: “What can people learn from your research?” Eh… Learn from what I do? So this job isn’t just a way of keeping another overqualified person out of unemployment statistics? Well, joke aside, …but I have to admit that such an upfront and naïve question up here in our ivory tower-existence made me realise that I think far too little about the very simple fact that people might learn something from what I do. Even if I often think that much in this world is outside of my jurisdiction and beyond repair, I hope I haven’t totally given up on the idea that what I do might be useful, - also above the personal pleasure of it and the societal benefit of not spending my days doing something that is harming the environment more. From now on, I’ll have in the back of my mind; what can the reader learn from what I write… or perhaps less didactic and patronising; which experiences do I want to convey? What do I want the reader to experience and retain from my text? Something like that…

And what did I answer to the question yesterday? First, I though eh… something about social classification blah blah…? That they are different in different societies…? That social cohesion and nationalism is different in different societies…? No, these things people say all the time. What I really want try to convey is perhaps the greatest thing about the Parisian slam poetry: How little it takes to create an inclusive environment where even a newbie like me can feel at home, and where one get to know others and get to express oneself. Can I write a manual to an open, cosmopolitan democracy in practice!?


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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Slam poetry

Slam 'aleikum - slam poetry soirée in Saint Denis (93)

I realised last night – dozing uncomfortably under rather dramatic circumstances, in the midst of a thunderstorm lightening the sky and with the wind making slamming windows and shutters throughout the street, and not to mention the pool of sweat from the perpetual heat wave as well as my untimely cold – that it’s about high time I write about what I’m actually doing here.

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