Magazine article Herizons

Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution

Magazine article Herizons

Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution

Article excerpt

WORD WARRIORS: 35 WOMEN LEADERS IN THE SPOKEN WORD REVOLUTION

EDITED BY ALIX OLSON

Seal Press

REVIEW BY TL. COWAN

There are a couple of the things about feminist performance poetry that many folks like to criticize: a) it's too personal; and b) it's too didactic.

Within the 398 pages of Word Warriors, you'll find plenty of the personal as well as the political-bordering-on-didactic. Each of the 35 writers featured here contributes a personal essay and two poems (one old, one new). These contributions frequently reflect personal journeys through hell: stories of sexual abuse, racist and sexist oppression, the shits of being poor and/or queer and/or drug-addicted-you know, what it's like to grow up in capitalism when you're not the target market.

These poems and essays offer in-yer-face survival strategies that, most times, include becoming involved in artist/ performance/ writing communities like slams or feminist reading/performing groups. What is historically so important here is that Word Warriors documents, through anecdote, the network of feminist and queer reading spaces across the U.S. We hear of the beginnings of slams and post-slam feminist reading tours like the Sister Spit's All Girl Spoken Word Circus. We also hear of the ways that these artists have navigated through cultural minefields in order to arrive on the other side with published books, nationwide fan bases, and the confidence that they have language as a weapon to fight back against the demons and that they know how to use it. …

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