Shakespeare and Slam Poetry – the power of recreating | Emma Elisabeth Holtet | TEDxAarhus


Translator: Morgane Quilfen
Reviewer: Tanya Cushman This is to the asshole Tinder date that once you’ve gone out,
he just lets you wait. He never writes,
and he never replies, and so you fill your head
with questions and lies. Maybe I was boring
or had something up my nose; maybe I’m not his type,
or he’s the kind of guy that has bros, and they’ve told him,
‘Bro, don’t bother, mate. If you ain’t interested,
just leave it be.’ And my reply to them is this: well then, what the fuck about me? Where’s my ‘I’m sorry,
I just don’t think we click’ text or ‘You’re lovely, but my diary’s jammed
for the next two years’? And I can just say, ‘Great, next!’ Or you could tell me a lie about how your work
suddenly transferred you to Dubai. And I can start looking around
for some other guy. You weren’t even that interesting, and you’re not exactly
incredibly good-looking, but that still doesn’t mean
that you should just leave me hanging! I am a person, I have a mind, and not writing and not replying
is not more kind. And also, like any woman, I am of course bound by thy natural curse that anyone that’s not interested,
it just makes me want them worse. Even if I didn’t even like them at first. This is a universal law, and so to all the guys out there, I implore, the last thing you should do to us
is to simply ignore because you won’t like the consequences – now that I can assure. (Laughter) We will start by stalking you on Facebook. Because, yes, I only know
your first name from Tinder, but I also know you’re friends
with Danielle Cook. Ha! I found you on her friend list –
only took one single look. Now, I will start browsing your wall. Pretty soon I know
your favourite band, favourite bar, and what you’re actually called. From here, I will find your address and will start randomly trying
to bump into you near your house. Later, I’ll take more drastic
measures into use, and quietly as any mouse, you will find me with binoculars
in the bushes outside your flat. And all of a sudden,
you’ll be missing your cat! Whiskers, the orange little sod,
has disappeared – how terribly odd! You launch a search party,
you put up flyers, but poor little Whiskers
has vanished into thin air. Until one day, miraculously,
ding dong, I call your doorbell, and there is Whiskers, in my arms. And I act surprised, ‘Oh my god, it’s you! Didn’t we go on a Tinder date
like five months ago? No way, this is your cat? I just found him in the bus stop now.
What are the odds of that?’ Well, pretty good considering the fact that I’ve been stalking you
for about 20 weeks or more. But as we’re talking now, I suddenly realize that you’re actually
such an incredible bore. So I give you back your cat, and I regret all of that time I spent lurking around
those cold bushes outside your flat. Then you ask me out for a drink
that night, and I’m reluctant, but then I think, ‘Eh, what the hell? Why not just do it, right?’ So we go out, and we talk about your cat, and how ‘unbelievably miraculous’ it was
that I brought him back. And I start having fun and thinking, ‘Actually, maybe this guy
is not a total hack!’ So we have a good time,
we kiss good night, we say farewell. I want to go home and go to my place. You say, ‘Let’s just go to mine’, and I say, ‘Meh, what the hell.’ So we go to your place,
and we do what people do, and as I leave in the morning,
your last words to me are, ‘I’ll text you.’ (Laughter) And for your sake, and for Whiskers’ too, man, this time, I really, really hope that’s true. Thank you. (Laughter) (Cheers) (Applause) Thank you, guys! Hello, everyone. My name is Emma, and I am the local poetry slam champion here in Aarhus. Today, I want to talk to you about,
of course, slam poetry, but I’d also like to talk to you about the joy of reinventing and recreating
the things that are right in front of us. Before I do that though, I’d just like to start
by making an official disclaimer. So, hand on heart, I promise you, I’ve never stolen anyone’s cat. That part of the poem
was 100 percent make-believe. I have, however,
been rejected by a Tinder date and gone so far as to stalk that person
quite thoroughly on Facebook. That part of the poem
is, sadly, very true. This is an example of how I write. So I take real stories,
stuff that’s actually happened to me, and I allow myself
the freedom to reinvent it. Now, for me, this is brilliant
for two reasons. Because, first of all,
it means every time I write a poem, I essentially get to rewrite my reality, which I think is pretty damn cool. Secondly, it also means
that every time I write a new piece, I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, right? I just dip into the backpack
of embarrassing experiences that I carry around with me anyway, I pick one, multiply it by 100,
and then, woopsy, I have myself a poem. So the pieces that I create in this way, I perform with at events
called poetry slams. For those of you
who don’t know what that is, a poetry slam is
a competition in spoken word. The format was created back in the 1980s
in Chicago by a guy called Marc Smith, and what he did was seemingly very simple, but, in my opinion,
completely brilliant at the same time. So he created a spoken word competition
with just three rules. One: the performer must, of course,
write the text themselves. Two: they must not use
any props or costumes on stage. And three: the performance
should not go on for any longer than
3 minutes and 10 seconds. In addition to that, he gave five random members
of the audience score cards so that they could rate
the poet’s performance. Thereby, he very literally
transferred power to the audience, and he created this link
between those watching and what the performer was doing on stage. I think this story is really brilliant
for several reasons. First of all, just because I love
that slam format, because it is so simple in its framework, it allows you as a performer
and a creative to put anything in there that you like. Which means if you attend a slam, you will very often experience a really wide range of different styles
and different performers in just one evening. And then, you’ve also got
this competition element. It’s actually the audience
that are deciding who gets to go on to the next round,
who gets to win the competition. That’s creating this really
sort of dynamic and exciting atmosphere, both for those watching, but, of course, also for the performers
that are being judged on stage. The second reason I really like that story
of slam and how that was created is because I think it is
a really brilliant example of how many great inventions
are, to some extent, reinventions or reworkings or extensions of existing scenes, formats, story lines, innovations, concepts,
contraptions, and so on. Another really great example of this, a much more obvious example of this, is William Shakespeare. He is perhaps the greatest
writer of all time, certainly one of the greatest
creatives of all time, yet he happily borrowed plots
from existing stories. And I think the reason
that we tend to remember his versions, sometimes even over the originals, is quite simply that he was successful in remaking them and reinventing them
into something that was extraordinary. Now, very awkwardly,
this brings me back to how I work. Not that I’m saying
my work is like Shakespeare’s. I’m not nuts – I know I just did
a poem about a Tinder date. No, it brings me back to how I work because when I work,
I also, as I said in the beginning, I take stories that already exist
and all I do is I give them a twist. And I found out I really love
working creatively in this way, by sort of taking the material
that is right there, obviously waiting in front of you. But I didn’t always use to work this way. Before, I was quite consumed by the idea that whatever I made
had to be 100 percent original, had to be a really difficult
process, creatively, that brought you to that end product. And I didn’t think
my own personal experiences were particularly original. Yes, they’re my unique experiences, but it’s experiences that, quite often, hundreds and thousands of people
across the world have also had, like that Tinder poem. I mean, everyone has had
a bad experience on TInder if they’ve been on Tinder
for more than a minute, you know. So that’s not unique, that’s a cliché. But then I found out, when I let go of that idea
about being original, that I actually loved
working with these clichés because it made it fun to try
to twist that, add something new, in order to attempt to take that cliché and to make it into something different,
into something new, and hopefully, also something
that might be better than the original. The reason that I was able
to let go of the idea about being 100 percent original was that I sort of started
thinking about the concept of originality. And in the end, I just concluded I don’t think anyone
can be 100 percent original. I think every creator,
whether they know it or not, is in some way a re-creator. We all stand on the shoulders
of those that came before, thought before, spoke before,
wrote before, joked before, and so in my opinion, creativity is not about being struck
by divine inspiration. I actually think it’s about
being brave enough to attempt to break a mould once more. It is about daring to reinvent, to take things that through time
have gotten stale and bent, smash them into pieces, and from those shards, we build anew, and add our time’s thoughts
to that invention stew. Because the birth of brave ideas
is the only cure against stagnation. Let’s be the generation
that reworks our world instead of leaning into old frustration. Let’s re-evaluate
everything we thought we knew, look at our lives and see
what parts could do with a review. Let’s reconsider and pull the trigger
on all that is flawed and decayed, and perhaps like old William, we could remould cold ashes
into something new until this, too, is unmade. Because nothing lasts forever. Yet nothing comes from nothing, so eventually all that we know
will someday seem forgotten, only to live on in some strange corner of the thoughts that future people
might deem relevant. Well, let this be the age, then, where we paint with ideas
in patterns so goddamn decadent that before they disappear, we’ll be visible to many a generation. Let’s create a world primed for birthing
beautiful beasts of creation that gallop around, tearing up
all boring, non-blooming bulbs, giving way to blossoming,
novel carnations. Let’s dare to rethink,
reinvent, and recreate. And who knows, we might
leave behind something great. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheers)

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