'Welcome to the big Karaoke, that we call Life': Bas Boettcher and the Scenes of Happiness
Badger, B, 'Welcome to the big Karaoke, that we call Life': Bas Boettcher and the Scenes of Happiness, Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern Literartures, 66, (4) pp. 183-193. ISSN 0039-7709 (2012) [Refereed Article]
Bas B÷ttcher is one of Germany's most popular and respected spoken-word poets. In 2010 alone, he combined numerous performances in German-speaking countries with international appearances in India, Namibia, Italy, Greece, France, Luxembourg, and Canada. Yet, ever since the advent of poetry slams in the late 1980s and the subsequent resurgence and commercialization of spoken-word poetry, opinion has been divided about this entertaining rediscovery of the inherent orality of poetry. One of the most frequently quoted assessments of performance poetry is Jonathan Galassi's description of it as a "kind of karaoke of the written word". One of B÷ttcher's own texts, entitled "Popopfer", welcomes the reader/listener into a space that is identified as the "gro▀[e] Karaoke, das wir Leben nennen". An analysis of other poems by B÷ttcher reveals a similar concern with themes of imitation and illusion. In "Alles in allem", B÷ttcher locates the individual in a cinema-like world reminiscent of Plato's cave, where the concept of illusion is central. Similarly, in "Dran glauben", illusion is identified as not only a key characteristic of our consumer-driven society, but also a factor necessary for the maintenance of happiness. This article traces B÷ttcher's exploration of the related themes of imitation, authenticity, illusion, and happiness and thus provides a response to Galassi's criticism of performance poetry.
authenticity, happiness, illusion, imitation, karaoke, performance, poetry slam, spoken word