I found this poem by Ani Difranco
April 20, 2002 2:17 PM   Subscribe

I found this poem by Ani Difranco re September 11 at Backwash. It hits the spot for me.
posted by Fat Buddha (42 comments total)
i saw her perform this piece live at her boston show a few weeks ago (the best ani show i've seen in years, btw) and while it was powerful, classic ani, i had a problem with the following bit of poetic license she takes, which, unfortunately, is a theme she carries through the entire last third of the piece:

here's to our last drink of fossil fuels
let us vow to get off of this sauce
shoo away the swarms of commuter planes
and find that train ticket we lost

i know that some trains here in the northeast, where ms. difranco hails from, are electric, but i think most trains in the us still run on good old fossil fuels. and i would venture to guess that most electric trains aren't running on green electricity.

still love her, though. glad she's touring solo again.
posted by damn yankee at 2:27 PM on April 20, 2002

Did an Ani computer script write it? Classic, sure.

"whiskey of eternity" ... snicker.
posted by donkeyschlong at 3:32 PM on April 20, 2002

Yeah, but they don't run on the same sheer amount of fossil fuels a jet sucks, yankee.

I liked this part:

and we hold these truths to be self evident:
#1 george w. bush is not president
#2 america is not a true democracy
#3 the media is not fooling me
cuz i am a poem heeding hyper-distillation
i've got no room for a lie so verbose
i'm looking out over my whole human family
and i'm raising my glass in a toast

posted by SpecialK at 3:44 PM on April 20, 2002

she's been continuously working on these piece since the 11th. we (that is, me and my tapeworms) have been watching it evolve on her website. i can't wait for the chance to hear this live. she's the ginchiest.
posted by jcterminal at 3:53 PM on April 20, 2002

we are just poems
and hers are just words
that fall on deaf ears
of the blessed and the cursed.

But she uses the word "cuz" and any poet who does that is blue ribbon in my book.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:07 PM on April 20, 2002

it really is much more powerful when you hear her perform it live. as big of a difranco fan as i am, i cringed a little the first time i read this piece on her site. it was just so ... spot on. my love for ani's lyrics has always come from her ability to look at things slightly sideways - to be oblique, ephemeral, and yet utterly precise.

but her delivery takes the cheese right out of this piece.
posted by damn yankee at 4:33 PM on April 20, 2002

Heard it in Sacramento a month or so ago. Definitely got my attention. I believe less in the usefulness of radicalism than I used to, but Ani is so consistent and articulate that I'm always glad I stopped to listen to her.

I was surprised to see her bust out the spoken word poetry (as the encore of the show). Some of her songs are already only thinly veiled spoken word rants. It's almost as if she's got too many rants to bother setting music to. But like I said, the woman is good, so more power to her.

Agreed with Damn Yankee - it does not sound at all cheesy when you hear it. I was arrested, glued to the spot by it.
posted by scarabic at 4:44 PM on April 20, 2002

I get the feeling actual criticism of this would not be welcome here, but let me drop a small word of dissent: not very interesting as poetry or politics. I'm sure it works better live, though.
posted by rodii at 5:19 PM on April 20, 2002

Indeed, as scarabic and damn yankee said, seeing this live is quite a moment. I'm always amazed at ani's talents as a performer -- it's not so much her stage presence or even her actual words that necessarily do it for me... it's the sheer emotion, confidence, and conviction behind the words she speaks that makes me respect what she has to say whether I agree with it or not.
posted by Hankins at 5:20 PM on April 20, 2002

I like it much better in print than I did when I saw it live.
posted by skyline at 5:48 PM on April 20, 2002

someone tell her the KGB no longer exists
posted by clavdivs at 6:19 PM on April 20, 2002

An early version of the poem used to be up in MP3 format on some Ani fansites, but I think they've been pulled since then. However, if you search for "Ani DiFranco WTC" on your friendly local file-sharing program, a few copies should show up. It was recorded in Bloomington, IL, I believe.
posted by brookedel at 6:30 PM on April 20, 2002

i saw her perform this piece live at her boston show a few weeks ago

Me too. First time seeing Ani. Pretty good show. :)
posted by jerseygirl at 6:35 PM on April 20, 2002

Beautiful. At this point, art may be our only defense against the liars and murderers who claim authority in this sorry excuse for a nation.
posted by Optamystic at 6:50 PM on April 20, 2002 [1 favorite]

"At this point, art may be our only defense against the liars and murderers who claim authority in this sorry excuse for a nation."

that's a harsh thing to call our current ruling party.

posted by jcterminal at 6:54 PM on April 20, 2002

You should have seen some of the shit that I deleted.
posted by Optamystic at 6:58 PM on April 20, 2002

Here's a link to an mp3 of the live performance.
posted by Optamystic at 7:40 PM on April 20, 2002

What's funny is that half the Ani DiFranco fanatics I knew from back in the day have married lawyers or doctors and are presently pricing SUVs, checking out high-end prams, and examing SAT scores and student-teacher ratios in the better suburbs ... amazing what turning 30 will do to the most pungent of radicals.

Although, it must be said, that they definitely do hate George Bush. Probably hate him even more now that they're moving into the moderate Democrat column -- back when they were radicals, they didn't believe enough in conventional politics to care whether or not a Republican beat a Democrat, or how.
posted by MattD at 9:35 PM on April 20, 2002

optamystic: "...this sorry excuse for a nation"

Oh, yeah, this place just sucks. And you're right, it's all just liars and murderers running the show. I'm sure any day now we'll all be rounded up and shot. Too bad we can't all just move to a more enlightened country, like Mexico, or Columbia, or Argentina, or Panama, or Cuba, or France, or Nigeria, or Ethiopia, or Zimbabwe, or Chad, or Libya, or Greece, or Turkey, or Russia, or Georgia, or Iraq, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait, or India, or Pakistan, or China, or North Korea, or South Korea, or ...
posted by pardonyou? at 9:43 PM on April 20, 2002

Well, since the U.S. bought and paid for the corrupt and abusive governments in many of those places, you might be able to get a good deal on a hotel. Hell, bring a couple of U.S. made assault helicopters with you, and they might even give you a gubment job with a nifty title. Personally, I'm partial to Generalissimo, but it's your call. Go nuts.
posted by Optamystic at 9:56 PM on April 20, 2002

Is it Aa-nee or Au-nee? I want to make sure I pronounce it wrong
posted by Settle at 11:02 PM on April 20, 2002

Show your work, Optamystic. List every single one of those nations where you can prove a connection between the US and the ruling party. I challenge you.
posted by jammer at 11:04 PM on April 20, 2002

I just pulled down the mp3 from Optamystic's link and thank you for that.

He is not the president of me.

I've been calling Shrub our "national governor" since day one. She says it and gets a standing ovation. This is a poetry slam. This is nothing new. They've been doing it here in Dallas for years but it doesn't get much attention. Imagine hearing this for two hours with a number of different voices each spouting their own rhetoric about how they're tired of political rhetoric, and it all starts to sound the same. I tried my hand at it back in college but it felt hollow and empty. Like trying to belong to a club that didn't show a reflection in the mirror. The best of the poetry slammers out there can't do any better than Dennis Miller on amphetamines, and that includes DiFranco.

Back in the sixties they'd shout their rhetoric and listen to their Doors 8-tracks and then they'd have sit-ins or burn bras and draft cards and think they were making a difference. Dylan said "the winds of change are blowing wild and free" but I've been looking for that change for thirty years like waiting for a bus that broke down in Newark. The Boomer Babies crashed and burned, and then they look at us Thirteeners as if we're supposed to pick up the pieces. And then we don't, and they go "it figures" and drive off in their SUVs.

I used to rant. Now I only ramble. And I wish the true majority of Americans - the nonvoters - would just once get off their asses and write-in Mickey Mouse. Then we'd see once and for all whether or not every election has been fixed since Jack's brains touched Ellum.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:58 PM on April 20, 2002

Show your work, Optamystic. List every single one of those nations where you can prove a connection between the US and the ruling party. I challenge you.

Do your own legwork, hombre.

Not to be contrary, but I know this drill. I cite sources, you attempt to discredit sources, lather, rinse, repeat. I don't have the time or the inclination to spoonfeed Geopolitics 101 to every Freeper that stumbles across one of my comments.

Here's a good starting point, though.
posted by Optamystic at 2:59 AM on April 21, 2002

After reading your site, I retract the Freeper comment. Still, Google can serve you better than I can right now.
posted by Optamystic at 3:03 AM on April 21, 2002

she's the ginchiest.

'Ginch' or 'gonch' is a teenage-boy-word for underwear, particularly pale-blue Y-fronts, in Northern British Columbia, or at least used to be when I was a teenage ginch-wearing boy up thataway.

And Optamystic : testify, brother!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:34 AM on April 21, 2002

Do your own legwork, hombre.

No fucking shit jammer. Educate yourself and you're deemed and idiot. Watch, ingest, fathom, hold it all down; CNN, ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS (in other words what it is to BE American), with a little rightwing infotainment Clinton emblazoned pantie-wadding and you're suddenly learned enough to not call a spade a spade when you see one. You're either a billionaire or you're in the dark.
posted by crasspastor at 4:43 AM on April 21, 2002

okay, clavdivs...enough's enough...return crasspastor's password, post haste. Otherwise, I'm calling the cops.
posted by Optamystic at 5:02 AM on April 21, 2002

"I'm calling the cops" you dirty rat. opty, i dont write that well whilst angry. and wasting you guy-iz energy on this bad poetry thread is ba-neth both ya's. This is not poetry, its diatribe and terrible at that. "What's funny is that half the Ani DiFranco fanatics I knew from back in the day have married lawyers or doctors and are presently pricing SUVs, checking out high-end prams, and examing SAT scores and student-teacher ratios in the better suburbs ... amazing what turning 30 will do to the most pungent of radicals." god, i wish i had a quarter for every person like that i've met. People who understrand enough to become dangerous to themselfs and those surrounding them. (imagine ...Vollman, getting ahold of difranco as a character, or what would Bill Burroughs say?)

Ginsberg: "What do you think?"

Bill: "I'm trying not too... neither is she"
posted by clavdivs at 9:06 AM on April 21, 2002

Are we all wearing black? I'm wearing black. I always wear black. Feels like we're all wearing black. Is black back? Home is where the nihilism is.
posted by Opus Dark at 9:19 AM on April 21, 2002

I've loved her work for the past couple of years... I missed her last time she came to cincinnati though, but I've already got my 4th row tickets for may. yes indeedy, i do love her work.

buti i'm not too impressed by this poem. maybe i'm not much of an extremist. maybe i don't mix well with politics. maybe hearing people cheer just annoys me when i haven't really heard anything special in particular.

maybe i need to go eat and take a shower when i wake up, instead of going to metafilter first.
posted by lotsofno at 9:27 AM on April 21, 2002

I like Ani Difranco's 'music'. I dont care much for her politics. THAT is simplistic at best. But she is incredibly good when she is talking about relationships.

The thing is - she belives in every word of everything that she says. I went to a performance of Ani in Veil the year before - it was dynamite. She is one of the few rock performers (or folk rock ..whatever) who hasnt burnt out.

Its sheer pleasure hearing her voice rolling off her tongue, the conviction deep in her voice, the strumming music.... you dont really need to care for her politics. If that makes any sense.

And I respect her for managing to make it big outside of the big labels. Arguably, she is the only one who has.
posted by justlooking at 11:37 AM on April 21, 2002

I listened to the live recording linked above by Optamystic. Did anyone else find the audience response disturbing? People cheering, clapping, getting caught up in Ani's politicism and commentary -- perhaps with most, albeit not all, but most not even fully understanding the words being said, but rather responding to her conviction of those words.

It sounds good, so let's clap. I like Ani. And if Ani says it, it must be good.

I suppose this is a common occurrence -- a large group of people jumping onto the same contagious wave of beliefs and thought due to the reaction of the person standing beside them. This is nothing new, but I have always found it somewhat frightening.
posted by aaronchristy at 12:17 PM on April 21, 2002

aaronchristy: "Did anyone else find the audience response disturbing?"

The audience response gave me chills, and not in a good way, which in large part is why I responded to it the way I did above.

She readily admits it's a work in progress. Well, she should work harder on it. It's definitely not done and belongs in her looseleaf notebinder until she's got it more concrete and finalized. She's using her audience as lab rats with her poetry, checking to see what works in the poem and what doesn't like the Marx Brothers used to practice their movie scripts before they'd actually film them. She needs a reality check.

As an armchair quarterback critic/editor type wastoid I can see at least a haf dozen things that can be done with this piece to make it better, and I'm not someone who anyone in their right mind would pay to edit their work so imagine what someone who's actually qualified to edit her work could do with it. She needs to take it back to the drawing board, try to figure out specifically what it is she wants to say, and convert it into something she sings and not something she slams out. I've wanted to enjoy poetry slamming. It doesn't work. It's King Lear wailing against the storm. All sound and fury signifying nothing. She's not being a part of the solution.

I expect this from me, or from anyone spouting on the Internet for their own edification, but I don't expect it from someone like DiFranco who actually has a real bully pulpit on her stage and a crowd of chilling DiFrancoDittoHeads cheering her on and hanging on her every word. Some of her words ring true but some of them threaten to incite a riot on mob mentality thinking. She's not even respecting the position that she's in, and that more than anything chills me to the bone.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:30 PM on April 21, 2002

"Did anyone else find the audience response disturbing?"

This reminded me of the last time I went to a DiFranco concert, which was I guess more than a few years ago, when she was just starting to get really big and playing in bigger venues & stuff - so I went with a friend; both of us had been into her since little shows on 12th st (my friend had even dated her roommate briefly... anyway). So, the show was good but I remember before she did her song "untouchable face" she specifically asked the audience not to get excited and cheer when she says "fuck you" and the fucking audience started cheering right then, when she said don't get excited when I say fuck you and every time in the song, too, they all were so goddamn giddy that this chick was saying a bad word. They were all like 12 years old, too. It was really kind of sad. I haven't been to a show of hers since.
posted by mdn at 3:09 PM on April 21, 2002

mdn: same experience, honolulu show back in 1999. it was terrible; it totally ruined her repoire with the audience, which is so crucial to the "difranco energy" that a lot of people in this thread have talked about.

the portland, maine show two weeks ago was like night and day compared to the boston show the week before. the crowd was much younger and more clean-cut at the portland show (as was the theater), and they actually sung along with her.

needless to say, it wasn't the greatest of shows. there were still some worthwhile moments, but she's not one of those performers who can get on stage and rock out, regardless of who's in the audience. which ties in to the criticism of her fans beings dittoheads, i guess, because there's definitely a synergy there.
posted by damn yankee at 4:58 PM on April 21, 2002

Probably unrelated:

anybody who derives their political views from artists/performers/entertainers has probably got half baked political ideas. It has been my experience that artists simplify/twist/slant facts to suit their narrative/lyrical/visual needs. This particular poem is over the top. But her music on personal relationships are great. Art as a medium has rarely been a reliable vehicle of political thoughts for me. I love Sinead O'Connor's music. But would I choose her to represent me? NO! Same goes for most writers. I have always thought that writers mostly make lousy politicians! Rushdie's political writing sucks. My father and I rarely see eye to eye on politics. But we agree on one point - that it would have been far better for India if Nehru ended up practicing poetry rather than politics. A misplaced poet! To my mind: you should go to a concert to enjoy the experience, not so much to find something you can believe in.
posted by justlooking at 7:00 PM on April 21, 2002

aaronchristy and zachsmind, that's EXACTLY what i was thinking...
posted by lotsofno at 9:19 PM on April 21, 2002

As I reread my last comment - it sounds rather pompous and conceited..not quite how I think of myself :(
posted by justlooking at 11:42 PM on April 21, 2002

She's using her audience as lab rats with her poetry, checking to see what works in the poem and what doesn't like the Marx Brothers used to practice their movie scripts before they'd actually film them.

Like all artists do. That's why the best albums are often made by bands who try their material out in the clubs first, instead of writing it in the studio.
posted by kindall at 11:55 PM on April 21, 2002

Well hopefully these girls are getting enough cMnTnV and Brittney to temper that which grassroots isn't about. Where are many of these youth to hear that it's cool to think political otherwise? Since when does an artist succumb to criticism that her art is too partial, too partisan, too ideological, too female, too young-well-to-do-rich-white-girls-in-sold-out-stadiums-listening-to-liberal-claptrap-singing-along, too personal, too from the heart. Whether any of her detractors would like to admit it or not, she did it alone, she did it with principle, she did it her way, she did it ethically. She apparently lives and breathes those very humanistic ethics. Why shouldn't her poetry reflect the same?

Her dittoheads?!?!? She has a following of people who like her genuine music. Who here, among us, ill-advisedly listned to sexist RikkiRocket Poison growing up? Tell me how the fuck that fucked up our mentalities? We're still here. How the hell Zach, just how "chilling" is her "chilling" following? How chilling were we when were lullabyed at that age by the Lyrics of Neal Peart? Or Curt Kobain. It's an upwardly mobile, feministically inclined humanist that's singing to them. You'd rather it be Janet "Partial" or the Promise Keepers? I hardly think so Zach.
posted by crasspastor at 3:32 AM on April 22, 2002

Not sure whether anyone is still following this thread. But I was thinking further about the subject. I think I got the wrong end of the stick when I said that artists are not a reliable vehicle for political thought. . There are poems, fiction, songs,movies etc. which capture my spirit perfectly and to which I can relate. That was too broad a generalization that I feel rather embarassed about. I was partly thinking of the comments on this thread, but the extrapolation was wrong.

There. I feel better.
posted by justlooking at 10:13 PM on April 23, 2002

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