Ryan Chartrand

Let us, for one moment, envision the decade of our youth and appreciate the 1990s for what it was: an artistically-challenged period of fashion faux pas, political blunders and social mishaps.

On this nostalgic walk down memory lane, you would undoubtedly see a colorful decade garnished with the random peccadillos of Vanilla Ice, boy bands, flannel T-shirts and pogs. Not to mention the mute period of time that the O.J. Simpson trial aired 24 hours a day, sucking the life out of humanity and basically creating an entire society of droids glued to the television.

So, while many disillusioned Americans chose to drown out the social inadequacies of this era by sitting around in basements making anthems out of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Green Day’s “Longview,” a small community of non-conformists decided to do something about it. The concept: use words to eviscerate, educate and illuminate. Thus began the reawakening of the Spoken Word movement.

Spoken Word parallels the Beat movement that became famous with the works of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs during the postwar years of the ’50s and ’60s. The Spoken Word movement of the 1990s rallied against cultural norms and raged against the social machine.

As a collective group, these writers and poets of the new spoken word movement single-handedly revolutionized modern euphonic poetry, and gave a whole new meaning to performance art.

With a throwback to the hip-hop generation amassing at around the same time, a new, in-your-face visceral style of performance poetry was born. This new type of oral poetry came to be known as Spoken Word.

Tackling an amalgam of today’s hard-core social issues, Spoken Word has become a safe forum in which social commentary and criticism is not only welcomed, but embraced as a way of life.

Oftentimes enhanced by the rhythmic qualities of music, spoken word has evolved into the fusion of the past and present, resonating with many different kinds of people all over the world. From Andrea Gibson to Talib Kweli, Ani DiFranco to Buddy Wakefield, this cultural movement has sent ripples through the core of modern aesthetics.

So, where can you find performance poetry to watch or participate in around here, you ask? Let me be the helpful guide that I am and direct you to the community of Cal Poly students that put on Another Type of Groove.

That’s right, a Spoken Word venue here in our own San Luis Obispo. Another Type of Groove is a student-run, community-wide collection of performance poetry-loving, free thinkers. If the poet in you sees fit, I highly recommend a visit to this unencumbered space.

But even if you don’t consider yourself the next William Shakespeare, it’s always a cool thing to do. Enjoy the company of good people, snack on some tasty intellectual entrees and learn a few things about the human spirit.

For all you spoken word junkies out there, who understand the power and might of the spoken word, say it with me; “poetry is.contagious.”

Another Type of Groove meets 7:30 to 10 p.m. the first Thursday of every month in the Performing Arts Center Pavilion, room 128. For more information about the spoken word organization, e-mail Another Type of Groove’s member Skylar Olsen at smolsen@calpoly.edu.

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