At the last Traverse slam I did a cover of Andrea Gibson's Wasabi. I usually avoid covers - I have a hunger to keep creating new poems and I don't feel that each poem is complete until I have performed it at least once. The precious opportunities to perform my own work are important to me.
But I love this poem and I found that memorising and performing it has given me more insight into how it is structured - its secret scaffolding.
Wasabi has everything I enjoy in a performance poem, starting with a coherent theme. The images build upon each other, creating a whole. I find some contemporary American poetry arrogant and incoherent. Metaphors come at you out of nowhere, leaving a discordant ring in your ear that you are trying to resolve while the poem plays on. Andrea's poems are not like this.
Another thrilling aspect is the pacing of this poem, the way it accelerates and slows, weaves and races. The colours and textures of the rhythm create a performance that transfixes the listener.
Finally, Andrea uses rhyme just right. She doesn't force any rhymes and uses some of them in unexpected but perfect places.
I would like to emulate Andrea in my poetry. By putting myself inside Wasabi, I am hoping that some of her talent has entered me.
This youtube vid starts with a lot of dialogue. To go straight to the poem, skip to 4:05.
I first heard Andrea on the IndieFeed Performance Poetry podcast. You can find IndieFeed podcasts on iTunes and also here.