Poets and Profs ~ Homer as Slam Poetry

Owen Cramer mentioned this article in UChicago Magazine yesterday on the Classics list … here’s the incipit:

For Mark Eleveld, MLA’10, and Ron Maruszak, MLA’10, the realization was inescapable: Homer, the blind bard, ancient Greece’s greatest poet, whose epics on the Trojan War and its aftermath founded the Western canon and influenced 3,000 years of literature, was, basically, a slam poet. What else to call a man—a showman and writer—who made his living turning poetry into entertainment, who traveled from town to town performing memorized verses before crowds of listeners? “I imagine that if Homer was alive today, and he had to go hang with a crew, he’s either going to the playwrights or to the performance poets,” says Eleveld. “In my head, it’s the performance poets. They take a hit in academic circles, but they’re closer to Homer than people realize.”

That’s the argument running through a documentary by Eleveld and Maruszak, Poets and Profs: Looking at the “Iliad,” in which ivory tower luminaries like Robert Pinsky and Nicholas Rudall, Herman Sinaiko, AB’47, PhD’61 (who died in October 2011), and James Redfield, U-High’50, AB’54, PhD’61, share the screen with leading lights from the slam poetry world: Taylor Mali, Bob Holman, Regie Gibson, Marc Smith. West Point English professor Elizabeth Samet provides some of the film’s most stirring moments, discussing the Iliad’s lessons—literary, military, and moral—for future soldiers. […]

A trailer for the doc came out last year:

… and the comments to the UChicago piece link to a marathon reading primarly by the younger set in Louisville:

You’ve heard Keep Louisville Weird, how about Keeping Louisville Classical?

A local group of students are trying to keep the past alive and well.

At the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft on West Main Street– a trip back in time.

Dr. John Hale from the University of Louisville is reading book two of the Iliad by Homer and it is all complete with musical accompaniment.

He’s one of 100 featured readers who will finish the epic 24 book poem about the Trojan War by Saturday.

The poem is complex, but the point is simple, Keep Louisville Classical; all in thanks to students from the Louisville Classical Academy.

Students are reciting part of it in English and in Greek.

These students take both Latin and Greek – it’s part of the curriculum here at the school near U.S. 42 and Prospect, Ky. It opened just a few years ago.

The Iliad is the earliest surviving written work from ancient Greece.

It’s this book that changed the course of life for the school’s founder Marcia Cassidy.

The former attorney read it in her mid forties and thought what if for a classical school.

Seventy-five children grades three through 12 are now enrolled at Louisville Classical Academy. They learn the basics and the classics and they love it.

They say all roads lead back to the Iliad — from literature, to language to culture.

They say it’s hip to be classical, and it’s hip to read Homer.

… it includes a video news report which is quite good …

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