Slow Reader Thursday: Jesus Poetry Slam



Phillip Long is not your average slam poet. If you’re not into poetry slams, you may even wonder what a typical slam poet looks like. I tend to think of poetry slams as “urban poetry with an attitude.” And in that way, Phillip Long is similar to that description. But, most slam poets are not Boeing 777 pilots and fathers of four children. And most do not look like they could be the cover photo for GQ or Forbes. Phillip Long is all of that, too.

At the writer’s conference I recently attended, he spoke for at least 15 minutes, non-stop, and the entire speech was comprised of him reciting his poems. And he never looked down at his notes, once. Yes, everything was memorized. His poems are not easily memorized, either. And while he spoke them conversationally, they all had that “poetic feel.” They are also incredibly, smartly written. I kept wanting Mr. Long to slow down so that I could soak in the “sheer weight” of his skillful writing and speaking. You feel bombarded by imagery and truth when listening to him speak, but all in a good way.

To say that I was not alone in these sentiments is to utter a huge understatement. The whole audience of veteran writers was stunned and silent as he spoke. We even hesitated to burst into applause as he finished because we were all still drinking in his last words. So, is it any surprise that I booked my bod to the conference book store and bought his very affordable, Jesus Poetry Slam? (According to Amazon.com, it is currently out of stock.)

Here are a few excerpts that particularly spoke to me:

1. His dedication page: “This is not what I had planned for middle age.” You’re reading my mind, Phillip…reading my mind.

2. From “Castles in the Air”:

So we settle for concrete castles, though vaporous souls bid us “higher.”

We have determined that infinity is measured by cause and effect

We believe that miracles must have reasons.

We seek for what we can hold–only to discover that we are held, by what we seek.

3. From “We are More”:

We are more than a carbon-based anomaly experiencing the illusion of meaning

We are more than the culmination of random particles streaming

We’re more than a biological accumulation dreaming

And more than a brilliant beast with a taste for plans and scheming.

4. From “What Did You Expect”

A public killing by the Feds; an occasion for a city,

The crowd turned out by thousands just to watch, to mock, to pity.

This wasn’t some back alley hit; some unsolved crime or mystery,

But caught by honored scribes and sages. Logged for all of history.

Professionals who kill for pay were hired to do the deed.


Phillip Long is a co-founder of the Sacrificial Poet Project. To hear more Jesus slam poetry, click here.

Tomorrow’s Post: It’s someone’s birthday…


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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 18th, 2013 at 6:50 am and is filed under Slow Reader Friday. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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