The Art of Poetry Film with Cheryl Gross: “Scalia’s Poetry Slam”

still from Scalia's Poetry Slam
View on Vimeo or at Daily Kos (which includes the text of the found poem).

Scalia’s Poetry Slam
Animation by Mark Flore
2015

For many years I made a living poking fun at people. And why not? There was money to be made and I was good at it. I’m still pretty good at it but now I’m a bit more reluctant to parade my sarcasm and wit for fear of backlash. There are those who misinterpret humor, sarcasm, satire, etc., but as the saying goes, fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.

That being said, this week’s (bi-monthly) review is an animation that pokes fun at Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia—as well as the poetry community. The creator Mark Flore takes a political stand and combines it with slam poetry. The result is hilarious.

Scalia’s Poetry Slam is well done, unpretentious and fun. It reminds me of how unassuming animation on TV used to be when I was a kid. Aside from the process being labor intensive (artists would hand-draw every movement), I assume there was a time factor involved as well. The cartoons were created for network television and clients can be demanding. The artists had to get the message across using a minimal amount of movement. This applied to some animation houses but not all (Disney had larger teams and produced multiple projects). Much like the cartoons of yesteryear, this one gets the point across without all the bells and whistles. I like to compare it to the style of humor in a New Yorker cartoon: it’s the old less-is-more theory. The piece relies on simplicity to carry the joke. Scalia’s Poetry Slam does a good job in embracing irony and helps put a smile on one’s face, reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously.

Cheryl Gross

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Cheryl Gross (website, blog) is an illustrator, painter, writer, and motion graphic artist living and working in the New York/Jersey City area. She is a professor at Pratt Institute (where she received her MFA) and Bloomfield College. Her work has appeared in numerous festivals and publications as well as gracing the walls of many galleries, corporate and museum collections. “I equate my work with creating and building an environment, transforming my inner thoughts into reality. Beginning with the physical process, I work in layers. I am involved in solving visual and verbal complexities such as design and narrative. My urban influence has indeed added an ‘edge’ to my work.” Cheryl has often been compared to “Dr. Seuss on crack.”

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