Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry features a spectrum of voices, from struggling urban poets who've cut their teeth in speakeasies and small clubs across the country, to the icons of the form, to celebrated actors, singers, dancers, and comedians writing and sharing poems for the first time.
Runtime: 30 minutes
Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry - Def Poetry Jam - Netflix
Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry, better known as simply Def Poetry Jam or Def Poetry, was a spoken word poetry television series hosted by Mos Def and airing on HBO between 2002 and 2007. The series features performances by established and up-and-coming spoken word poets. Performances also include special appearances by well-known actors and musicians, as well as occasional performances by Mos Def himself. Co-created by Bruce George, Danny Simmons, Deborah Pointer, Stan Lathan, and Russell Simmons, the show is a spin-off of the popular Def Comedy Jam which began airing on HBO in the 90's. As with Def Comedy, Simmons appears at the end of every episode to thank the audience. The series included historical legendary poets such as, The Last Poets, Nikki Giovanni, Amiri Baraka and Sonya Sanchez. It also featured poets, Saul Williams, J. Ivy, Jessica Care-Moore and Lemon. Though technically not a poetry slam, Def Poetry has become heavily associated with the poetry slam movement, and utilizes many of poetry slam's best known poets, including National Poetry Slam champions such as Beau Sia, Taylor Mali, Big Poppa E, Mayda del Valle, Mike Mcgee, Alix Olson and Rives, among others. Even poets who are critical of the poetry slam, such as John S. Hall, have acknowledged slam's influence on the show. In a 2005 interview, Hall was quoted as saying:
It's true that I was on Def Poetry even though I've never slammed. I'm probably the only person to be on there who hasn't slammed. And I think most people on Def Poetry have won slams or done well in slams. And, all of them, except the special guest stars, the celebrities, are writing slam poems and performing slam poems on Def Poetry, so to me, Def Poetry is still extremely slam-informed, and I think it will probably always be. What they say about Def Poetry is that it wants to bring an urban feel. And to me, they don't mean black or Latino, or non-white. What they really mean is, a rhythm of poetry that comes out of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, that came out of the slams.
In a 2005 interview, Bob Holman, who founded the Nuyorican Poets Cafe's poetry slam and appeared on Season 4 of the show, applauded Def Poetry, noting:
I'm real happy poetry is on television. My hat is off to Russell Simmons, who has found a way to get poems on HBO in a way that feeds his own business. It gives him the back credentials for his hip-hop label, and at the same time he's magnanimous towards the art of poetry, giving us a place like that. It's a great, great moment, just as Def Poetry Jam on Broadway was a great moment, too. Not since Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf has a poem like that been on the stage.
However, Marc Smith, the founder of the Poetry Slam movement, is more critical of the program. Smith decries the intense commercialization of the poetry slam, and refers to Def Poetry as “an exploitive entertainment [program that] diminished the value and aesthetic of performance poetry.” In November 2002, a live stage production, Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam, opened on Broadway. Directed by Stan Lathan, the show featured poets Beau Sia, Suheir Hammad, Staceyann Chin, Lemon, Mayda del Valle, Georgia Me, Black Ice, Poetri Smith, and Steve Coleman. The show ran on Broadway until May 2003, and won a 2003 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event. The show subsequently toured both nationally and internationally. Def Poetry premiered on HBO in 2002 and the latest season to air (Season 6) premiered in February 2007. As of summer 2008, there has been no word about the possibility of a Season 7. Starting in 2008, producers of Def Poetry (including Simmons, Stan Lathan, and Kamilah Forbes) developed and broadcast the HBO poetry show Brave New Voices, which is stylistically similar to Def Poetry, with teenage poets competing and backstage scenes.
Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry - Episode 6 - Netflix
Wyclef Jean – Immigrant Nayeli Adorador-Knudsen – Priceless Michael Cirelli – Love Song for Kelis M'Reld – Ready for Love Red Storm – Snake in the Grass Kelly Tsai – Aftershocks Paul Mabon – The Toothbrush Kevin Derrig – Andrew Mighty Mike McGee – Like Narubi Selah – Uncle Benz Ise Lyfe – Popular Dirt
Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry - References - Netflix