Why The Spoken Word Grammies Are Useless

I could truly care less about Mary J. Blige’s nomination sweep of the Grammies. What does interest me is the Spoken Word aspect. Alas, this year’s Spoken Word set of nominees are about as far as one can get from genuine poets. Bob Newhart? Bill Maher? Sure, these folks are somewhat effective comedians in their own right, but they are hardly poets. Al Franken? Well, if whiny mainstream “comedians” who take no chances and tell liberals what they already want to hear are indicative of “storytelling,” then let the Two Buck Chuck flow.

This leaves us with Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee reading their autobiography and Jimmy Carter, who actually has written some poetry, although his nomination is for Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis, about as “poetic” in nature as Franken’s schtick.

Granted, the Grammies, like most awards ceremonies, are pretty pointless. And there’s no reason to expect them to honor the rich and eclectic millieu of audio books. But if the category in question “includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling,” why doesn’t a single nomination feature poetry? If the celebrities are getting greater recognition, why not create a new category dedicated exclusively to literature?

Well, we can’t have that. Billy Collins, Maya Angelou, and Donald Hall aren’t nearly as sexy as Blige strutting her stuff. Gonna breakthrough? Not on your life.


  1. Ha ha … I’m picturing Jimmy Carter and Bob Newhart kicking it at a poetry slam. This is funnier than Jethro Tull as best Heavy Metal band.

    I guess “Spoken Word” technically means any non-musical recording, but still, there are a lot of good poetry recordings released every year. These selections sound like audio books to me — give these old guys a Quill and get them out of the way.

  2. Considering Bob Newhart has even won in this category just shows that it is not JUST for poetry and that all the nominees belong right where they are. AND if the Grammy’s are “pointless” why are you so concerned with their categories??

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