LH: In your opinion, are spoken word performances literary art or
performance art? Both?
EM: Yes,it’s art. It is produced by people and
does all the things that art does. [It’s a] form of folk art, because of
grassroots activity in our community. But there are different types of art.
If not (for different types of art), you would see a lot of activity, not a
chartering of the waters, everyone doing [the same] stuff. It introduces
many young people to a form of expression.
Terms may be reinterpreted.
[The] definition of poetry is very elastic. But for me, it is the emphasis
and use of metaphor. If I see an absence of this, something is missing. I’ve
got to see that connection. If it’s (metaphor) a cliché, than I lower the
quality of your work. The key thing is spoken word stuff like microwave
popcorn. [You eat it and it’s gone] The enduring quality of poetry is every
time I go back to it I see a deeper, richer quality. If not, then it’s not
functioning as poetry. Just how you appreciate a poem or read a poem, it has
to be there. [It] has to be memorable, or I’ll have a problem defining it as