Capitaine Alexandre and Slam Poetry
Written by Jennifer Nugent
On Wednesday, slam poet Marc Alexandre visited French classes at Columbia to perform and talk about his slam poetry. Bwogger Jennifer Nugent was there to describe the scene for us.
Award-winning slam poet Marc Alexandre was on campus yesterday to give a performance and talk about his work. He spoke to a small group of students in a few French classes about his views on performance, inspiration, and the arts. This is an imperfect representation of his thoughts, both because of paraphrasing and because I barely speak the language…
The first question asked was about the most difficult part of Alexandre’s process. Interestingly, he said that he gets stage fright and though he has already created and memorized his own work when it comes to the performance, that is when the nerves set in. His performances are also discussed because of his unique tendency to collaborate with musicians. Alexandre described the difference in belief between those slam poets who considered true slam to be purely spoken-word, and those who enjoyed mixing other artistic elements into their work. Alexandre pointed out that there is a thin line between slam with music and rapping, but maintains that the integrity of slam poetry is not compromised by collaborating with other artists.
The most inspiring part of the session was Alexandre’s thoughts on creating slam poetry. First, he writes all of his own pieces and focuses on his experiences and on issues he feels passionate about. For example, he participates in a group of poets who often collaborate and recently created a piece commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. He describes his poetry as breathing, sighing, planting a seed and putting in enough feeling to let it grow. He also spoke about the concern for rhythm. He pointed out that he always performs in French, but if an audience member does not speak French, or he is watching a performance in a language he doesn’t know, the dynamics of the performance can perfectly indicate the feelings, meaning, and the importance of a piece. As a demonstration, Alexandre finished his presentation by doing a brief slam, speaking about poetry and the creative process, more which can be found here.
Photo via Capitaine Alexandre’s website