Spoken Word: Live At Beyond Baroque 2
If you were fortunate enough to attend (like I was) that momentous evening in November 2003, well…GREAT!
If not, then I can certainly say the next best thing to having been there is Live at Beyond Baroque 2, (Perceval Press/EM Press 2004), the two-CD compilation recorded live at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice (California) to commemorate the publication of The Spoken Word Revolution, and to raise funds for the now defunct, but never-forgotten Midnight Special Bookstore.
Bragging aside, this is an opportunity for poetry aficionados, snobs, and Lord of the Rings groupies to hear a diverse mix of poets from Los Angeles and other parts of the country. Backed by the musician John Condron, the CD opens with an overly modest introduction by Viggo Mortensen (poet, activist, and actor), then jumps right into a short but, heartfelt recitation of Billy Collins’s “Introduction to a Poem” by Mark Eleveld, (editor of The Spoken Word Revolution).
The rest of compilation contains entertaining performances by Marvin Bell (Iowa’s first Poet Laureate), Mike MeGee (2003 National Poetry Slam Champion, and San Jose’s stand-up poet laureate), Patricia Smith (author of Close to Death, Pulitzer Prize nominee, and my personal favorite of the poets on BB2), Luis Rodriguez (L.A, poet, author of Always Running and Poems Across the Pavement), Viggo Mortensen, Georganne Deen (painter, and author of Western Witch), and climaxes with two dynamos from the slam poetry scene, Saul Williams (author of Said Shotgun to the Head), and Regie Gibson (author of Storms Beneath the Skin).
It was humbling to be in the presence of aforementioned luminaries who came together at almost a moment’s notice to help save the Midnight Special Bookstore, and to promote unity through poetic expression. The exceptional quality of sound on this recording invokes all the aural pleasures of the musicality of spoken word. My only gripe is NOT all the poets who performed that evening are included in the recording. The question remains: Why did they leave out Victor Infante?
Nevertheless, Live at Beyond Baroque 2, like the anthology The Spoken Word Revolution, provides yet another touchstone in the path toward the appreciation for poetic diversity.
(Live at Beyond Baroque 2, Viggo Mortensen and Mark Eleveld, (editors), 2004, Perceval Press/ EM Press, ISBN: 0-94747078-6-4, $15.00, total time: 85 minutes.)