The fifth season of Def Poetry is over, and here are our summary awards:
Three Best Performers of the Season: First, Sista Queen, an unknown young poet from Atlanta who won’t be unknown much longer after tearing up the stage in episode 7. Second, Big Poppa E, who illustrated his poignant and personal words with a deft physical performance that was a pleasure to watch; and Mike McGhee, who was just plain freaky, funny and real.
Best Celebrity Appearance: Alicia Keys (who I expected nothing from).
Worst Celebrity Appearance: Savion Glover was irritating and Phylicia Rashad was boring, but I’m going to give the award to John Legend, because he didn’t even try to look like he cared that he was appearing on Def Poetry. Go collect your Grammys and leave us poets alone.
Worst Fashion Statement: The legendary Oscar Brown Jr.’s final TV appearance on the planet earth, in a bad t-shirt
Best Line From Mos Def: “Oh shit, it’s Russell Simmons!”
Best Email From a Def Poet: I wrote some disparaging words about Kristiana Colon’s poem about Christopher Columbus, then received a polite and inquisitive email from the poet asking exactly what my problem was. I explained that I thought her performance was good but that I was sick of the show’s tendency to harp on tired old news stories about Rodney King and Malcolm X and that I felt her choice of subject matter was similarly cliched. Kristiana wrote back to let me know that there is more depth to her poetry than can be glimpsed from that one piece, and asked me check her website. I did and she’s right: see for yourself.
Most Surprising Lesson I Learned While Reviewing These Shows: My fellow LitKickers do not share my enthusiasm for this show. Not by a longshot. Most of our LitKicks postings get a healthy response from our readers, but week after week my reviews of Def Poetry were met with a stony silence. When I asked about it, I found that most people either a) didn’t have HBO, b) liked to pretend not to have HBO even though they had it, or c) felt tremendous antipathy towards the whole concept of Def Poetry. Strange … I think it’s a damn great show. At least one LitKicker agreed with me, anyway, and I’d like to thank Billectric for keeping me company during this lonely exercise, and for sitting in to review the one episode I missed.
Now, if you’re one of these people pretending not to have HBO, cut the crap and watch the reruns, which start playing in September.