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Title: "A Man Git Dis Yella Water in His Blood": The Evolution of Blues Poetry and Performance
Other Titles: Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies Student Papers
Authors: Rutherford, Sarah
Keywords: Memphis Center;Student research;Institute for Regional Studies;Papers;Text
Issue Date: 2006
Publisher: Memphis, Tenn. : Rhodes College
Abstract: A man in too-loose blue jeans and a half-buttoned maroon shirt, stretched wife-beater beneath, walks onto a makeshift stage and clears his throat. He grabs the microphone with a quick, assertive movement, and his shoulder- length dreadlocks sway. "I call this 'Born a Nigger,"' he says, and begins to recite in a slow, syncopated rhythm, a poem about a young man who is trying to understand himself and his race in relation to what society has labeled him. The rough, melodic words intermingle with the soft din of glasses clinking and the muffled conversation of audience members in the back. "When I was a boy/rocks stuck in my shoes/because they had no sole (soul)/like me," he says, gesturing wide with his free hand, "like me before I heard/words that sang my tune." On this warm Thursday night during the summer of 2005 in a small Midtown Memphis coffee shop you can hear music drifting in from other bars and restaurants lining the street-Coltrane, a jazz cover band with an overpowering lead guitarist, modern rock. But the man's voice drowns the music to a hush, and his words make their own rhythm. This is performance poetry, a "Poetry Slam" as it is called and usually consists of ten to fifteen poets performing and being judged on the quality and delivery of their original works.
Description: Scanned and Uploaded by Will Clinton '19.
Appears in Collections:Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies

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