Review: ‘2nd Verse: The Rebirth of Poetry’

Though comparatively rough-hewn, "2nd Verse: The Rebirth of Poetry" is an inspirational crowdpleaser in the mode of docs like "Spellbound" and "Mad Hot Ballroom," similarly tracing precociously skilled young protags through a competitive event. In this case, it's the annual Brave New Voices Poetry Slam, a San Francisco event that in 2005 (the year recorded here) attracted some 350 teenage poets from 36 U.S. cities, plus a smattering of international participants.

Though comparatively rough-hewn, “2nd Verse: The Rebirth of Poetry” is an inspirational crowdpleaser in the mode of docs like “Spellbound” and “Mad Hot Ballroom,” similarly tracing precociously skilled young protags through a competitive event. In this case, it’s the annual Brave New Voices Poetry Slam, a San Francisco event that in 2005 (the year recorded here) attracted some 350 teenage poets from 36 U.S. cities, plus a smattering of international participants. With ample rooting interest and dynamic spoken-word performances, this well-traveled fest fave is ripe for broadcast pickup.

Filmmakers Carl D. Brown and Erin Beach focus on a few diverse contenders living in the Bay Area. San Francisco’s “Youth Poet Laureate” Emiliano Bourgois-Chacon is only noncompetitor showcased, and also the sole figure whose poems (some addressing his struggle with cerebral palsy) lean more toward Dylan Thomas than Ice-T. Other gifted principals address race, class and economic issues: Nervous newbie Yosimar Reyes’ focus is his undocumented-Mexican-immigrant heritage; African-American Meilani Clay speaks of familial sexual abuse; privately schooled Caucasian George Watsky considers his white liberal guilt. Filmmakers generate considerable involvement in both individuals and the contest. Tech package is basic but functional.

2nd Verse: The Rebirth of Poetry

Production

A Corduroy Media production. Produced by Erin Beach, Carl D. Brown. Directed, edited by Carl D. Brown. Written by Erin Beach.

Crew

Camera (color, DV/HD-to-digiBeta), Brown. Reviewed at San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, June 20, 2008. Running time: 78 MIN.

With

Yosimar Reyes, Emiliano Bourgois-Chacon, Meilani Clay, George Watsky, Shannon Matesky, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, James Kass, Saul Williams, Aya de Leon.
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