In Appreciation Of… Steve Roggenbuck

With permission, I’ve started reading a “cover” of a Steve Roggenbuck piece called My Ebay Buyers Rating is Through the Roof – I’ve done this a couple of times now, and I’ve noticed that my first mention of Roggenbuck usually gets some positive response in the room from at least a handful of people. So I just wanted to blog about the “leader of internet poetry” and their work. Of all Roggenbuck videos, Make Something Beautiful Before You Are Dead is the most notable; it being a reference point for so many people I know. The monologue places motivational language with pop culture references, it results in a video that you’ll laugh at, but that also transcends into a poetic statement.

The form (youtube video) has something to do with this. The references are deliberately specific, and targeted at my age group also. Looking through the channel you’ll find further examples of this kind of reference – and of further things reflected in DIY punk.Roggenbuck has done a whole bunch of cool stuff including the poetry mosh pit, and the poetry crowd surf. Steve’s words were used on the Shakusky album Lancaster Market, on the track “Somewhere in The Bottom of the Rain”. Steve has also spoke up about gender issues, commenting here about their own gender and the gender binary. The immediacy and relevance of something like a tweet or a short video really resonates with me as an audience member and performer.

I think in this country the closest thing we have to the kind of tour Roggenbuck does is DIY touring, and house shows – the traditional poetry nights and performance opportunities being less likely to accommodate this type of show/tour. In the UK, from my own perspective, performance poetry nights tend to be dry and unable to accommodate an outside influence (geographically only showcasing local acts, or favouring only one style of poetry – this might be page poetry, or American influenced slam poetry perhaps). DIY though is much more able to accommodate different styles and forms, and artists from different places. I feel like this is similar to how Steve Roggenbuck tours in the states. Check out the Live My Lief page for more info.
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Zach Roddis

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