This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Slam Tutorial: Embrace Your Impediments - The Lisp

George Watsky featuring and hosting at the 2010 Collegiate National Poetry Slam Finals at the Cutler Majestic Theater in Boston.

You have a lisp? A stutter? A stammer? It didn't stop King George VI from rallying the English people to resist the Nazis and it shouldn't stop a page poet from slamming. We find ways to cope when the goal outweighs the cost. I have a stutter, but I have a sing-song way of shifting my voice when I slam, so that it appears to be my speaking voice but actually emerges as though I'm singing like the way I speak.

If your fear is a lisp, George Watsky knocks it out of the park by over emphasizing the lisp with this great poem.

"S for Lisp"
By George Watsky

So someone said to me the other day I’ve got a lisp.
A stranger you know they said I’ve got a subtle lisp and I should know I sound a little stupid doing spoken words when all my words have "S" in them are spoken so absurd.
And I’m not upset, okay it just sucks.
You think you’re speaking normally for two decades and then shucks;
find out your stuff sounds like a stanza of Severus Snapes toughest parseltounge is pronounced by daffy duck.
So I will say this.
My subtle lisp is not sinful. I’m not sorry Saturday, I’m not sorry Sunday; I’m spiritual and when I speak I celebrate the Sabbath seven days a week.
I've got special S sauce all smothered on my skull walls like a tossed salad so silk screen the Sistine ceiling on my soft pallet.
I sing along with super seensters reciting Sufjan Stevens songs in skinny jeans.
Dance salsa with soccer moms sneaking out in skimpy see-through sarongs.
I will answer your questions in stout with my sexy subtly lisping sparkling incisor small.
What’s my surname? Watsky.
What’s my size? Stocky.
My city? San Francisco it’s so sweet now slow.
See, I’ve heard some steamy stories of oral sex but I’m not stretching to say one time, I made a lady climax by speaking an S-y section of a Shakespeare sonnet in her split legs general direction.
I scribble all S Essays I shred them and sprinkle the whole S ashes. My speech doesn’t give a spotted sea snail if it passes. I slipped pass straight F’s to straight S’s in my classes because my speech stay second semester senior status.
Seriously so so so so soon, so sick sixth grade kids call me sofa king I’m on tongue steroids, slammin with the Sammie Sosa swing, so tight I sleep upright in a small cell in Sing Sing and sail the seven seas on Steve Irwin’s sting ray while your speed boats sinking.
[. From: .]
It’s still too soon.
Anyway screw an S.S.O.S I’m straight S.S.S for save someone’s standards. Studied at Emerson the school of savage speech.
Sup Stanford?
I spit sexier than Summer Sanders, Sarah Silverman, Susan Sarandon, Sissy Spacek, Sally Struthers, and Selena, spooning, in a 6-way same sex all S celebrity civil union.
So, you can slander the gay lisp and I will slip you a solid list of friends, or 60% of Emerson; who, lisp or no lisp, will stop, spit, stay pissed, and start all over on the racists.
You can save the South Korean stereotypes, the Sambo shtick, the sexist shit is sickening.
And if you suppose your speech is normal, its cause your impediment is listening.
Speak for those of us with something special. Something that sets us aside from my accent havers, my stammerers, my Southerners, my st-st-stutterers, yes I will spit it sick and stick to never skipping S.
Cause I was, sucking on a soup spoon and I suckled it to sterling silver simple supple super soaker staying watching sister sister scenage syllables coming esophagus move over there’s this place in second place isolate oxygen there’s no stopping this I start this step of speaking you should see that I will not desist
I’m sorry cuz see, If you don’t like a subtle lisp, but you can simply suck on thissssssss

George Watsky is a writer and performer who believes in the equal power of the tear and the belly laugh. Born and raised in San Francisco and now based in Los Angeles, he aims to cross-pollinate the stage, screen and stereo with work that speaks to both the humor and frustrations of modern life.

Watsky was featured on Season 6 of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO. He was the 2006 Youth Speaks Grand Slam Poetry Champion, 2006 Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam Champion, and performed in a record six consecutive Youth Speaks Grand Slam Finals. The last three of those audiences, all topping out at over 3,000, were the largest ever for poetry slams anywhere in the world. In 2009 Watsky was one of three poets who performed live on FOX at the NAACP Image Awards in honor of Simmons’ lifetime achievement award, and in 2011 he performed live as a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show on two separate occasions.

Watsky has made strides to bring his poetic sensibilities to the theater world. His one-man show "So Many Levels" has been presented in Boston, San Francisco, Vermont, and at the Hip Hop Theater Festival Critical Breaks series in New York City. He has also been featured at the San Francisco and Washington, DC arms of the Hip Hop Theater Festival. He played the title character and co-wrote a 2004 adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy for the Living Word Festival and his stage play "Harold’s Fall or King Will" is the recipient of the 2009 Rod Parker Playwriting Fellowship.

Taking it to the page and stereo, Watsky’s debut poetry collection and CD, "Undisputed Backtalk Champion," was published by First Word Press in 2006. Edited by novelist Adam Mansbach, the book is currently in its fourth printing. As an emcee, Watsky has performed on both coasts with his band Invisible Inc. The trio’s self titled album, a blend of jazz and hip hop, features R&B sensation Passion. George’s self-released debut, Watsky, reached as high as #7 on the iTunes Hip Hop albums chart.

An honorary graduate of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership in Melbourne, Watsky has emerged as part of a vanguard of artists involved in the sustainability movement. The inaugural Speak Green winner for poetry on climate change, Watsky was twice invited by Robert Redford to perform in Sundance, Utah. He served as host of Green Mic in San Jose, Calif. and of the culminating concert of Powershift 2007 in Washington, D.C., and performed at Rock the Debate in Oxford, Miss., prior to 2008′s first presidental debate. His work has brought him to the opening plenary of Green Cities 2008 in Sydney, Australia, and Greenbuild Chicago, where he took the stage immediately before President Bill Clinton.

Touring while finishing his college education on a condensed schedule, Watsky has performed at conferences and universities in more than half the states in the U.S., and two in Australia, appearing at some of the nation’s most notable venues, including the Apollo Theater, the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, the San Francisco Opera House and the Shrine Auditorium. He has shared billing with Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt and Mohammed Ali.

Watsky graduated from Emerson College with a B.A. in writing and acting for the ccreen and ctage, studying with Keith Johnstone, Ken Cheeseman, Robbie McCauley, Sarah Hickler, Amelia Broome and Andrew Clarke.

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