Poetry Gets Brutal at Hardcore Spoken Word
Cobblestone Village at Mountain Creek was revamped at the beginning of this summer to offer an assortment of cool new events, the most recent being a Hardcore Spoken Word show on Oct. 7th put together by Jason Vochal, a writer and performer from Vernon, N.J. This is the second show that Jason has planned at this venue featuring ‘spoken word,’ and both have been pretty successful, considering that this place is pretty far out of the way for a really specific scene and limited space.
If you’re wondering what spoken word is, exactly, it’s a little difficult to explain. It’s not quite poetry, but it still has distinct poetic elements. It isn’t music – that’s pretty obvious – but it can still be lyrical and rhythmic. Similar to slam poetry, it can be anything from stream-of-consciousness to a confession to a rant, or even a very emotionally charged reciting of a poem. A lot of the content is extremely political, and all of it is highly personal; the performer really lays himself on the line onstage. It’s the kind of thing that has to be experienced to be understood, but what comes through most strongly is that this is a form that emphasizes the oral aspect of poetry. The style and energy of the performance comprises a big part of pulling off spoken word – how it’s said is equally, if not more, important as what’s being said.
At Friday’s show, it felt like the group had lost a little bit of the momentum they’d gained from their first show in September, which had been held onstage in the courtyard outside. Maybe it was the change in venue to the very small living room-esque space inside, where a hodge-podge of couches and tables were crowded around just a few feet of space for the performers, and toys hung from the ceiling on strings. Or it might have just been the weather – a fun time is not as easy to come by when everyone’s sneezing and shivering from the fall’s vindictive efforts to make everyone miserable. In any case, this time around wasn’t quite as impressive, but the night still had some highlights that made it worth checking out.
Nick “Word Man” D’Agostino dropped four original pieces that were pretty amazing, the kind of writing that makes you want to be this guy’s friend because he’s so intense. He talked about a lot of different things – his illness, his parents, gravity, and what it might be like to be euthanized – and he carried all of it with an angry sense of resolve.
Jason also threw out some good material, using his Macbook to read excerpts from a novel in the works. He was frenetic and funny, a little crazy and definitely talented. From talking about his open-heart surgery to how to open a coconut, Jason’s was more of a conversation than a performance, which he said was intentional, and he made a point of trying to make his time in front of the audience a little more interactive, getting the people there to participate for the last part of his piece.
On top of his writing, you have to respect the guy for putting the show together and getting people excited about something that most people would consider a little lame. Poetry doesn’t exactly have a lot of pull for weekend plans in certain scenes, but Jason managed to get a lot of people excited about it. He somehow makes it cool to be embarrassing, and anyone who has the guts to talk about masturbating in front of his mom (who was in attendance) gets some serious props.
Other performers included George Andresen III, who serenaded the room on Friday with a few covers and an original song on his acoustic, Shaun Mason from Seas of Wake, and Erig Sieglen from Fall to the Queen (who performed at the September show).
Sadly, the season for summer shows is over, but be sure to check out what the performers are doing while they get their winter chill on, and keep your fingers crossed that spoken word moves indoors with another show soon.