<span class='p-name'>Lyrics, Performance, & Power</span>

Lyrics, Performance, & Power

I’m teaching a course on slam poetry as part of our first year experience (FYE) initiative here at CofC. This course is titled the “Revolutionary Poets Society” and it is a reboot of an after-school club I facilitated when I was teaching middle school.

The Revolutionary Poets Society focuses on global opportunities to respond to the demands of the moment through poetry, music and art. Students will learn about the roots of slam poetry — the Harlem Renaissance, Confessional & Beat poetry, the Black Arts Movement, performance art, and hip-hop.

We focus on the development of vocabulary and a set of critical, literacy, and performance approaches to help enable engagement with slam poems and spoken-word poems on aesthetic terms. Students present in a poetry slam at the end of the semester.

The current syllabus for this class is available here. I’m also using Medium as an open blogging space to serve as my learning management system.

Responding to a performance

Throughout the course, I’m having students respond to various readings and other multimodal materials (text, images, video, audio). One of the activities included in the semester is a review and response of various forms of lyrics and presentation to discuss identity. Specifically, I’m crowdsourcing a playlist of songs or presentations that evidence incredible lyrics…and incredible performances of these lyrics. Put simply, great writing…and a powerful performance of these lyrics.

As part of the assignment/assessment, students will review the playlist, and identify a song/performance that most speaks to them. They’ll then write a reflection and response to the piece.

The video playlist

I shared out an initial request on Facebook and received a flood of suggestions for this playlist. I added all of these suggestions to the video playlist embedded below. Please be advised, there are some songs and presentations that include NSFW language.

Still accepting suggestions

After the initial request, we have 75 pieces in the playlist. The playlist is (IMHO) very powerful at this point. It’s also weak in terms of classical, opera, metal, rock, and…I guess…country.

It is also heavily weighted to English speaking contexts and cultures.

Please send me suggestions via Twitter, email (hello@wiobyrne.com), or in the comments below. I’ll add in all of your suggestions as well to the master list. I will also have students submit pieces after they have responded to the materials on the playlist.

I’m contemplating having a playlist as well that is safe for schools/work. I may also have genre specific playlists…but unsure about the need/purpose.

Thanks in advance. Enjoy. 🙂


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