Metaphor Magazine Launches Online
April 30, 2007
CONTACT: Matt Peiken, editor/publisher
WHAT: Debut of METAPHOR, an online magazine dedicated to slam/performance poetry.
METAPHOR focuses on the people, personal stories
and social issues fueling performance poetry
Today’s performance poetry is anything but raw poetry – it’s song, scat, soapbox,
silence, scream, whisper, wail, humor, hysteria, hip-hop, jazz, freestyle lines and
ricochet rhymes – a far cry from Kerouac’s coffeehouse poetry. So if performance poetry
lacks the public profile of, say, (insert any other art form here), place much of that
responsibility on the poets. There’s little consensus among them about what defines
their art form and, more acutely, what doesn’t. Despite tremors of potential over the
past two decades, most notably through Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam and the
annual National Poetry Slam, the public and press are left scrambling for entry points, if
they bother at all.
METAPHOR magazine bridges the gap, digging into the lives of established and
emerging performance poets and helping readers connect to them both as artists and as
real people, whose vibrant personalities lend color and energy to their communities. At
the same time, METAPHOR is the only magazine keeping its ear fastened to the larger
social and political issues -- from war, poverty and racism to reproductive rights and
domestic abuse -- dancing on the tongues of the nation’s performance poets. Our trend
stories make thematic connections for readers and place poets’ views and values at the
center of dialogue. Other stories examine where performance poets sit in a larger arts
context and other arts/culture happenings impacting or involving performance poets.
Their poetry comes through in the video and audio clips accompanying each feature.
IN THE DEBUT ISSUE
METAPHOR’s launch features a profile of Ed Mabrey, winner of the recent Individual
World Poetry Slam in Vancouver, B.C., and a look at America’s Hispanic and Latino poets
and their efforts to break stereotypes and reach wide audiences.
Minneapolis poet Thadra Sheridan is the first contributor of our “Mouth to Mouth”
column, where top artists speak to their poetic peers on a range of topics, from how-to
pieces to first-person accounts of funny, dramatic and meaningful moments related to
their craft. METAPHOR’s most fun and unique feature comes from Los Angeles slam
queen Sonya Renee, a National Poetry Slam champion who, in this magazine, becomes
the nation’s first advice columnist delivering wisdom in audio verse. Sonya’s “Ask a Poet”
column carries no nonsense or nuance, dropping verbal bombs on readers’ questions
about life, love and beyond. Other areas of METAPHOR, still in development, are
dedicated to teen and college-aged performance poets, and “Off/Stage,” a department
spotlighting poets’ lives and talents -- from cooking to canoeing -- away from the stage.
WHY THE FOCUS ON PERFORMANCE POETS?
Performance poetry has the ingredients for wide, mainstream appeal. Insiders estimate
several thousand poets, spread across every state, compete in poetry slams, participate
in hip-hop shows and lend their voices to gallery openings, jazz concerts, fashion shows
and more. These people draw on drama, humor, history and the human condition to
dive into topics spanning the social to civic, the personal to political. Some artists make
their livings by creating and teaching performance poetry, and handfuls of standouts
have won cultish followings through TV, touring and CD sales. Scores of newcomers,
many of them teenagers, enter the field every year through open-microphone events.
More than ever, in a country where millions of youth and adults craft poetry that never
leaves their own notebooks, people are eager to know and hear their insights – if only
they were aware of them.
ABOUT MATT PEIKEN
Founding editor/publisher Matt Peiken has spent 20 years as an arts and features writer
with daily newspapers in California and Minnesota. Currently on staff at St. Paul (Minn.)
Pioneer Press, Peiken has won feature writing awards from the Associated Press, Society
of Professional Journalists and the California Newspaper Publishers Association, been a
fellow with the Poynter Institute, in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the National Arts
Journalism Program at Columbia University, in New York City. He has written extensively
across a span of the arts and was a longtime contributing writer for Modern Drummer
Magazine. In 2006, Peiken published his first book, the self-help parody Positive
MEinforcement: Shout 'Me First!' and Make Every Day All About YOU!
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