The Man Who Would Not Shut Up
Java Monkey Speaks finished with a bit of snark last night. The poet, “Gabriel,” had been sitting next to a loudmouth. Worse, the loudmouth was hitting on a lady. The loudmouth was boasting about how enlightened he was, by talking over poets. The fact that it was a warm evening, and the patio was open, made it worse.
“Gabriel” did not get to hear the performers. He was not pleased, and did what poets do. He wrote about the man who would not shut up.
Performance … on stage, or in the audience … is a tiny percentage of the JMS experience. Most of your time is spent listening to other performers. When one person speaks, the other people listen. Many of the poets are terrific, and if you don’t listen, you miss out. We don’t need to talk more. We need to listen more. This is true for the rest of the world.
One problem is that listening is seen as passive, while speech is active. Our culture values action. Even if you make the situation worse by speaking, many people cannot keep their mouth shut. The patio romeo did not seem to get this. The fact that there is a room next door, designed for conversation, did not seem to occur to this man.
Last summer, PG went to JMS. It was the sunday after Philando Castile, and Alton Sterling, died. PG had a conversation with “Gabriel” after this evening. “One of the other white men felt the same way. He opened his poem by saying that it was not his struggle, and it was not appropriate for him to speak. (Those were not the exact words.) PG spoke to him at intermission. He said to think about this… what if you were a black person, coming to read on a night with much black pain. You looked in the audience, and there were no white people to listen?”
Read your smutty poem is one result of that evening. java monkey speaks black white mix, americas bad week two black men, shot dead by police best thing for , white man to do is be there listen, not your struggle not appropriate, read your smutty poem shut up.
One issue is the limited amount of time available for speakers. JMS has an 11 pm curfew. Towards the end of the evening, performers should go up, read their piece, and sit down. When you are on stage, you are not aware of how long you are up there. PG was a couple of spots before “Gabriel,” and was wondering if he would get to perform. “Gabriel” wrote his poem in anger, after the patio performance. The poem will be better with editing.
At the end of the night, things seemed to work out. PG and “Gabriel” got to speak before 11pm. There will be other times where not everyone will get to speak, because someone else did not know how to listen. (And not just at Java Monkey.) The white savior complex is alive, well, and annoying. It is not known whether the patio dude impressed the lady. Pictures today are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.