VIDEO: Tyehimba Jess Reimagines The Poetic Form

Photo credit: Ed Marshall Photography NYC

I wrote in the festival recap:

Imagine poetry that can be read top to bottom, bottom to top, in both directions across, and still make sense. That’s what Tyehimba Jess has created, all based on the Arabic ghazal form of poetry. He used the format to explore and illuminate the humanity of Bert Williams and George Walker, two of the best know vaudeville performers. It’d been explained to me what he was going to do, but nothing prepared me for his performance.

Unfortunately, part of the magic that the video doesn’t capture was that we were able to follow along because Tyehimba had the poem on the screen. So between his energetic performance and our being able to follow the cursor, we all saw the flexibility that the poem has to be performed several different ways.

You can check out the poem here: Williams-Walker Paradox7.

Onto the video: