Excerpt from

Looking for Omar

I'm in the school bathroom
washing my hands without
soap but I'm still washing my hands.

I turn the water off
and look for a paper towel
but paper towels have been gone
since the first day of school
and it's June now.

Living the Legacy: E. Ethelbert Miller's Website

E. Ethelbert Miller at Academy of American Poets

Lauren Harrison interviews E. Ethelbert Miller:

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 poetry. 

"Looking for Omar"