Beetitude. The word, coined by Hampshire College student Sam Teitel 05F and coauthor Steve Subrizi, an Emerson graduate, is used as the title of their latest joint poetry collection. The genesis: random conversations spurred by stage banter during a poetry reading somewhere in the continental United States. The definition, as printed on the inside cover page of the self-published Beetitude. "Attitude as possessed by a beet. Like, the vegetable."
Beetitude, thus defined, fits in nicely with Teitel's and Subrizi's approach to poetry. They want reactions, whether it's from readers silently thumbing through the book or a crowd at one of the many stops, seedy or otherwise, on their recent spoken word tour. They want to make their presence known, and if they have to do weird things to people's metabolisms to achieve the goal, so be it. Just don't confuse them with beat poets. You know, the kind with an A instead of double Es.
"Spoken word and slam poets find it tiresome being compared to beat poets, so it's kind of cool to get to make jokes about it in our own way," says Teitel, whose next book, the punk-influenced Baby Please Don't Get How You Get
, comes out this spring.
The two poets have published several works on their own, but the friends decided a joint collection would be an interesting project. They took the beet poems on tour in December, doing a series of shows in New England before heading west and hitting spoken word landmarks like Chicago's Green Mill (where slam poetry started) and the Mercury Café in Denver. Both agree that the wandering has had an impact on the way they write.
"Drive across the country. Do it. It really, really changes you and gives you a new perspective on things. It shakes you out of your comfort zone," says Teitel, who doesn't plan to let the limited financial opportunities for poets stop him from chasing the muse any time soon. "The way I look at it, I'll settle down and do something responsible eventually. I'm ok with being an adult, but I don't want to be a grownup yet."
So it is kind of weird, then, that not many beets actually appear in Teitel's or Subrizi's poems, right? Not so, says Teitel, if you plunge deeper into the metaphysical reaches of the word, allowing it to encompass, really, a singular approach to life itself.
"Beets are an interesting vegetable. They have some punch to them, they're kind of an active vegetable. They're bright red and ugly and have a lot of flavor to them and do weird things to your metabolism. They make their presence known in this world," says Teitel, who has faced plenty of beet-related questioning since the book was printed this past December.
With the Beetitude
Super Super Deluxe Collector's Edition, complete with collectible trading card, hitting the stands, can you blame him?-by Michael Medeiros