Pick of the Week » Sam Sax

Fri Nov 12 10, Elbo Room

(Evan Karp)

Learn to Speak Gasoline

Do not have any children/ you will not know how to teach them to be men/ i am a special puppet/ one who never wanted to be real/ one who will be performing his whole life

Let’s forego the grand entrance, when Sam recites Fran San Frisco; let’s pretend he doesn’t continue to recite his poetry while getting sprayed in the face with a water gun. Buck theatrics, Sam Sax is one of my favorite poets. I can’t believe I haven’t already selected him as a pick of the week.

Instead of analyzing Sam’s performance or poetry, I’d like to point out that, as the quote above suggests, Sam performs for a living. You can catch him at the weekly slams. Part of the reason he’s this damn good is because he depends on the slams for food money. This is Sam’s life.

Welcome. He’s glad you’re here. I’m sure he won’t mind me asking what you think about the idea of depending on your artwork … is it preferable, pure, noble — or does it muddle the intent of creation?

Andrew Paul Nelson, who respects Sam at least as much as I do, recently spoke with me about his own personal need to have art exist outside of his responsibilities and how important this is for him. He doesn’t want to make art for the sake of money.

That’s cool, and all, but — and I will not question here whether what I do is art or not, but the point remains that I have not had an employer in over a year and a half and subsist, mostly, on my writing — I personally feel like if you can do it, then you should. The trouble is there’s no way you can possibly know if you can until you have to. Are you out there? Do you know what you’re capable of?

It is a very rare creator that can subsist on her/his own art without compromise. This is an achievement that requires far more than a grasp on the creative process, and substantially more guts. But there’s not much to say about it, really. Either you do it or you don’t. Either way, though, you’ll appreciate Sam, so here are a few more videos:

This coming week » Tonight is your last chance to check out the Naked Minds Festival—I went Friday and, let me tell you: if you appreciate Ed Bowers, you want to catch his play! I recorded the other two, by Alan Kaufman and Charlie Getter, but Bowers’ was too hard to capture. The whole program is only 2 hours, with 2 intermissions … ok, but seriously (go). Also today you can see Joe Klocek and Will Durst. Tomorrow, check out Ink. Reviewed: Vanessa Boyd is in town from NYC. That’s pretty much all I’ve got for this week—a light one for the holiday. But the following week amps up in a serious way, so check back soon.

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One Comment on “Pick of the Week » Sam Sax”

  1. Charles Kruger says:

    I’m not sure that money and how it is earned is the issue here. I think that my goal as an artist is to live seamlessly – the art is expressed in everything I do. If I am working as a barrista, and I am an artist, my experience as a barrista will be significant from an artistic standpoint. The art might reside in my observations of people, for example, the way I relate to them. Or even in the gracefulness of my movement as I prepare the coffee I serve. It is not at all necessary to have an “art job” to be a full time artist. I rankle a bit at Evan’s suggestion that one should support oneself entirely with one’s art if you can – as if one is somehow compromising if one does other sorts of work. It rankles because I think the true artist expresses that artistic nature in any work whatsoever. It is a type of contemplation and for the true contemplative there is no such thing as wasted time. If my day job feels like time wasted it is not because of the job but because of the manner in which I am doing it.

    This is a “comment” and thus hurried. If it sparks further discussion, I may attempt a more carefully composed essay but I wanted to see if I could get a ball rolling here.


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