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'Busload of poets' heads straight for Tucson

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Gary Mex Glazner will present his new film "Busload of Poets" April 2 at the Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St. Glazner will be a featured speaker at this year's Tucson Poetry Festival.

By Anne Owens
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday Mar. 27, 2002

Centuries of austere sonnets and stiff verse have left a dusty film on poetry, but current festivals, films and tours are brushing some of the dust away.

The creator of the film "Busload of Poets" sends out stationery that reads "Poetry Slam Incorporated: Minister of Fun, Gary Mex Glazner."

"Busload of Poets," which documents the Poetry Slam's 32-city spoken word tour in the summer of 2000, will be played in conjunction with the Tucson Poetry Festival.

The film, a low-budget documentary full of young, spirited poets and a few special effects, takes strides toward Glazner's goal. The film quality at times resembles a local commercial, but a true poetry aficionado might feel cheated by glitz and glam, and the poets seem most at home in somewhat amateur video.

"I hope the film gives a broad cross-range of the kind of expression that's going on in America today," Glazner said.

The movie's press release states that the film "combines animation and cutting edge editing to bring a Monty Python, Woody Allen, update to that most dusty and hated of grade school topics: poetry."

Woody Allen might not have ever filmed something like "Busload of Poets," but it's not impossible to imagine him watching it.

"I hope the film gives a broad cros -range of the kind of expression that's going on in America today."
- Gary Mex Glazner
film creator

As far as brushing the dust off a dusty old topic, following a group of worked-up kids on a creative endeavor easily sidesteps the dryness of grade-school textbooks.

The poems are often funny, often sad. Some are both in the same instant. Some are clever, others are brutal. There are sincere testimonials about fellatio ("Maybe you are a man who has never sucked dick," a pretty, curly-haired girl reads over whoops and hollers, "and you want to know what it is like.") and sincere tearful outbursts in reaction to "yo' mama" jokes.

Glazner said he hopes moving between mediums will help to expand poetry's audience.

"There are people who will see a film but won't go to a poetry reading," he said.

The idea of the loophole, of using one medium to expand another, is something with which Glazner is familiar.

"A friend of mine was visiting recently; he's been living with gypsy refugees and writing poetry in their voices," Glazner said. "I asked him, 'Why write poetry when these could easily be essays or books?' He told me that because poems are short, people who won't read an essay or a book will read a poem. He gave an example of a police officer who read a critique of how policemen were treating refugees. He's someone who never would have been reached had he not had something so accessible."

The accessibility of the poetry slam is something Glazner is careful to stress; it's also something he admits his film lacks in parts.

"It's not the same as being in a room with a live poet," he said.

At the very least, the film is a collection of some very good poetry, but it verges on being more.

The film follows people through an electric period in their lives and documents their raw emotions. Between readings, there are snippets of footage documenting the everyday life of the tour. Some are funny, others are a little hokey, but they are fresh sources of who these people are - in some cases, truer sources.

The film begins with a poem about poetry and ends with a poem about the tour.

It makes perfect sense; almost all poetry teachers in America have dusted off their textbooks and told their students to write what they know.

The 20th annual Tucson Poetry festival will take place April 1-6. Glazner will present the film April 2 at the Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St.

For more information about the festival and the movie, call 620-2045.


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