Def Poetry (TV Series 2002– ) Poster

(2002– )

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Quite worthwhile
goldbera28 March 2005
First off, if you generally dislike spoken word, hip-hop or even poetry in general... you might want to skip this. For the record Def Poetry tends to veer towards rap and slam poetry and away from more traditional poetry, so some lovers of Wordsworth or Plath or frost wont want to make the trip.

If you have seen the movie "slam" or heard Saul Williams or Sara Jones or lemon or any other slam poets or are interested in exposing yourself or others to this form of poetry you WILL be interested in checking out Def Poetry. As with all compilations, there are highs and lows, but overall most of the poets do have something to offer, whether it is profane humor, joie de vie, or something eloquent, touching or political.

Each episode features 4-5 young poets doing their thing as well as a singular "old school" representative. My one complaint is that each of the older artists is presented reading or reciting in sepia tones... this seems cheesy to me.

there are 4 episodes of this program shown per year, and the first two years have been collected on DVD. My mom is an English teacher in a high school here in Canada and she is planning to use the first season (selected parts) to illustrate to her students how poetry can still be a relevant form... and to show the link between rap and poetry.

There IS some foul language, but for the most part its absolutely nothing you haven't heard a million times (esp if you listen to rap). Its definitely nothing that will scare you away. If you keep in mind that the typical episode will have 2 performers you will really enjoy and 3 that you will not be so into, I think you will find it a welcome surprise. Def poetry jam is something different, and of decent quality. and that makes it a worthwhile show.
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If You're Into Musings On Cute Little Butterflies and Rainbows, Then This Ain't For You!
Deceptikon2256 April 2004
I love this show. It gives light to poets who have something to say and are not afraid to tell the world the truth to it's face and not give a damn about how you take it. I especially loved the poem, "First Writing Since" by Suheir Hammad. It was about an Arab woman who had to deal with being Arab, dealing with 9/11 and having two brothers in the U.S. Navy. I especially loved the lines:

"one more person ask me if i knew the hijackers.

one more m*therf*cker ask me what navy my brother is in. one more person assume no arabs or muslims were killed. one more person assume they know me, or that i represent a people. or that a people represent an evil. or that evil is as simple as a flag and words on a page.

we did not vilify all white men when mcveigh bombed oklahoma. america did not give out his family's addresses or where he went to church. or blame the bible or pat robertson.

and when the networks air footage of palestinians dancing in the street, there is no apology that hungry children are bribed with sweets that turn their teeth brown. that correspondents edit images. that archives are there to facilitate lazy and inaccurate journalism."

Powerful stuff!
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pagerlink-114 June 2003
Everyone who has HBO should be exposed to this gem of a series. Presented by the man who brought you the Def Comedy Jam, Russell Simmons, brings you Def Comedy Jam. A series which exemplifies Americas problems as well as diversity. This show will truly open your eyes through a plethora of lyrical tongue twists and non-commercialized rap. You've got to see it to believe it!
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Mixed but generally interesting and worth dipping into
bob the moo13 January 2005
In a weekly show, Mos Def (and some guy wheeled out at the end) presents a collection of modern poems and pieces of spoken word delivered by their authors. Some are funny, some are rude, some are clever, some are touching, some are thoughtful, some are impressive, some are not, some are great, some are OK, some are poor. And that is how best I sum this up because it is very mixed but is interesting enough to be worth watching if you are fan of hip hop (not hip pop or the stuff from actors playing criminals and fronting all the time). I say this because the show does feature the sort of stuff that will appeal to fans of people like Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Roots, ?uestlove, Jean Grae – real head stuff! This is not to say it is of their quality because it isn't – indeed the show is very mixed. Lyrically the majority of it is interesting and worth listening too and for that alone it is worth seeing it for. However the delivery is a bit of a problem. Too many artists think that raising their volume gives them more meaning or power, whereas really it doesn't. I think especially of the poem by the mixed race girl about her heritage – on paper it is great but her delivery is too angry, her words said it all, her delivery made it feel like ham. I was surprised by how many I actually really liked and took me by surprised by how clever they were – "between these thighs" is very clever and very funny, playing on the black clichés of relationships that are promoted by mainstream hip hop culture; the Korean guy offering himself to be any bit part cliché in any movie was very self aware and the poem "money" was very funny indeed. Of course it is a matter of taste and I imagine that people who dislike this type of stuff and hip hop of this side will be put off by it; even those who are into it will acknowledge that there are weak links in the chain, even if the overall product is good.

Overall, this is a good show that I found different and interesting even if the standard was not consistent across the board. The majority of poems are very well written and are well worth listening to for whatever they make you do (think, laugh, chuckle, reflect, switch off!) but the main weakness is often the delivery. Too few of the poems come across as themselves are the majority seem to be just aping the style of "modern beat poet" – the strongest poems are from those who come across as real people with real words rather than just performers; happily they are in the majority. Very different from the sort of stuff TV serves us up here in the UK and well worth seeing if you are a fan of Mos Def, Kweli, Common et al (and if you're not, you should become one).
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diverse poetry pertaining to everything...
whoTheFuqRyou4 July 2004
Def Poetry host by Mos Def is definitely a nice and relaxing show for me. As someone who listens to Rap music which is spawned by poetry, it's very interesting to see a diverse group of poets with attitude and mental intellect. The cast sometimes is very, very unorthodox and this is what makes the show good to watch.

Same thing basically as Def Comedy Jam, but this is all poetry and even some of the poems have a strong sense of humor in them. memorable poems by Flow Mentalz, Yellow Rage, Common, Buju Banton, Talib Kweli, Wood Harris and others...

nice show
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