Steve Roggenbuck

You guys may remember the “Live my Lief” shirt I wore when I gave my Flarf presentation. You may also remember my awkward explanation of it being the URL of a flarf poet I like.

Well whether you remembered all that or not, the poet in question is Steve Roggenbuck. Steve does a lot of interesting things to stretch the definition of poetry, and these are a couple that relate to our class.

This is currently Steve’s most popular video on YouTube. In it, you can see him recontextualizing traditional poetic ideas for an internet culture: He samples a clip of Robin Williams quoting Walt Whitman in the movie Dead Poets Society and uses #YOLO to talk about Carpe Diem philosophy in a format that collages together snippets of video, much like flarf poems collage snippets of text.

Additionally, Steve reads his poems to music. I heard him read last Sunday, and he played post-rock music while he read his poems to intensify the emotional experience. For one of his motivational poems, he read with a Soulja Boy instrumental playing.

Because he was used to reading with a rap track in the background, Steve decided to rap Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” over an instrumental version of it he had on his laptop. Often, rappers try to add poetic elements to their raps; now, a poet has added rap to his poetry reading – both in the wider sense of having backing tracks for the poetry and in the narrower sense of covering an Eminem song.

Steve uses the Carpe Diem argument that your time is limited in many of his poems to motivate his audience to appreciate the natural beauty of things (a la Whitman) and achieve their life-goals. The Eminem rap, “Lose Yourself,” is a song where the speaker motives himself to achieve his life-goal of becoming a big-time rapper before he is too old to compete in the industry. Both Eminem and Steve take the fact of a human’s limited time and use it as motivation to achieve their dreams. This synthesizes the philosophy of Carpe Diem with contemporary trends in rap.

If you watched the video, you can see that Steve is working off more than just rap, flarf, and Carpe Diem traditions, but I figured these were some things he does that seem to relate to presentations we’ve seen in class.


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