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CHF 2009: Laughter

Michael Salinger: Well-Defined

An Irreverent Poke at Vocabulary Definitions

Click play to listen. Recorded on November 8, 2009.

After writing poetry for more than twenty years, Michael Salinger experienced an epiphany. A veteran of the National Poetry Slam competition, he recognized the correlation between the rich rhythms of the English language and the complexities of its vocabulary. He has since created an innovative teaching method, incorporating rhyming and vocal performance, to help students understand and remember such challenging vocabulary words as “credulous” and “instigate.” Salinger's playful poems and animated delivery make this program family-friendly. The poet also discusses his work on stage and in the classroom as a literary advocate, champion of both poetry and words.

Speakers and Performers

Michael Salinger

Michael Salinger is a poet, fiction writer, and performer. His work has appeared in dozens of literary journals published across the United States and Canada. He is the author of the poetry collections Stingray and Well Defined - Vocabulary in Rhyme, among many other books. An eight-time captain and coach of the Cleveland Slam team at the National Poetry Slam competition, he is also the founder and director of the Nova Lizard project and chief facilitator of the teen writing and performance program at Cleveland's Playhouse Square Foundation.
CHF Suggests      Related links and resources for further study

Leaders And Thinkers

Roger Bonair-Agard
Slam poet
Rachel McKibbens
Spoken word poet
Marc Smith (b. 1949)
Founder of the poetry slam movement

Related Events

Poetry Foundation
Readings in Chicago, IL, and around the country
Poetry at the Library of Congress
Readings in Washington, DC
Seattle Poetry Slam
Spoken word in Chicago

Good Reads

The Poetry of Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
Work by the poet cited by Salinger
Interview (1955) with James Thurber (1894-1961)
The Paris Review's George Plimpton and Max Steele with one of Salinger's early favorite writers
Welcome to the Monkey House
Short stories by Kurt Vonnegut, another author mentioned by Salinger (Google Books Preview)

Online Resources

Video: Michael Salinger, Slamming
Salinger's poem "Neon"
Poetry Slam, Inc.
Host of the National Poetry Slam competition
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