trish bendix

seeking jazz or sex or soup

Posted in Uncategorized by trishbendix on April 7, 2008

When I was in high school, I participated in forensics, which has nothing to do with dead people or science. It’s essentially competitive speech activities which sounds boring but was actually quite fun. So fun that when I moved high schools and they had no forensics team, I started one.

I always competed in the dramatic interpretation sector, in duos and also by myself with an Erma Bombeck piece that got me third place in regionals (the judge really liked Bombeck.) But one year, I decided to try poetry, where you have 5-7 minutes to dramatically interpret a poem. I stupidly (but passionately) chose Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” This posed many problems–firstly, it’s way longer than 5-7 minutes. Secondly, it’s very difficult to memorize. Thirdly, I am not sure how I ever expected to deliver the poem in a way that would do it any justice. I ended up only performing a condensed version once, but knew it wasn’t going to get me far, so I switched back to the dramatic interp side.

The beauty of forensic competition was that there were very few limits in topics discussed or swear words used. It was the one place while in high school that I could see my peers acting out discussions of GLBT issues, abortion rights, adultery and other heavy topics that certainly aren’t part of the general education. It was one of my favorite parts of that time in my life, despite never attending schools with huge teams and support.

I hadn’t thought about my attempt at “Howl” in a long time, until this weekend when I watched the documentary, The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg. In between photos, video interviews, and historical information on his life, Ginsberg recites several poems, including his infamous “Howl” and I realized that I would have never been able to begin to understand what he meant in his words and rhythm at sixteen. And I certainly would never be able to master his perfect rhythmic way.

One Response

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  1. Jerry said, on April 8, 2008 at 12:11 am

    The DVD set contains the movie and over 6 hours of amazing extras with great old footage and modern interviews.

    It is at Amazon: “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg”

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