Interview With Corrina Bain (December 2004)

corrinalrgCorrina Bain is a Worcester, Mass., born-and-bred poet who has been performing poetry since the age of 14. She has participated on three National Poetry Slam teams, most recently representing Providence, RI, this year, and she is the assistant coordinator of the Worcester Youth Poetry Collective. Her work appears in several anthologies. And she is only 21. In January, she embarks by bus on the second half of her first national tour, with Mallory Kaczmarek. checked in with her via email before she hit the road.

What’s your itinerary for this tour? Where have you been so far? How long and how far are you going?

Corrina Bain: This is more like 2 tours, really. Morris Stegosaurus and I have already done a bunch of shows in the northeast, then went down to Oklahoma City, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, McAllen, Albuquerque, and Denver. After New Year’s, Mallory Kaczmarek and I will be doing Vancouver, Seattle, a string of shows in northern Arizona, and a couple shows in southern California.

How did you put the tour together?

CB: Morris Stegosaurus and I did the first leg of the tour together. He did all the booking, which was indispensible. Morris, if you’re unfamiliar, is one of the most inventive, unique, fun to watch performance poets working today, and he’s been on the finals stage more than once, so being part of a package with him made a lot of things easier. The rest of the tour, which I’m doing with Mallory Kaczmarek, I booked myself, doing some semblance of networking through people I’ve met at NPS. Mallory has been on 2 New England youth slam teams, and has a strength of spirit and unity of vision that I haven’t found anywhere else.

You began performing at the age of fourteen. What originally drew you to the stage and to poetry?

CB: I’ve lived all my life in Worcester, Massachusetts. It’s enough to make you want to scream, with a microphone even. There is, oddly, a really vibrant and interesting poetry scene in Worcester, however, there is really nothing else. It may not be a good answer, but it’s the answer.

What’s your favorite thing about touring/performing?

CB: Those are two very different questions. Touring has been incredible as far as seeing more of the country and getting a better sense of the diversity of voices and aesthetics within the slam family. It’s been very informative, and I recommend it. Performing is something else. The idea of communicating anything to anyone accurately, whether it’s in a performance or not, is essentially a very hopeful concept. I like to think it’s the driving force behind most of what I do.

You’ve been on three National Slam teams, most recently representing Providence, RI, in 2004. What’s it like competing in the National Slam?

CB: Nationals is like any slam, only more so. More interpersonal politics, more intensity, more people forgetting that it’s a game. If you look at it as a good show and a way to meet people, it’s a lot of fun.

When is your favorite time to write? First thing in the morning, on the bus, in the wee hours? Can you describe your writing process a bit?

CB: I write mostly when I’m trying to sleep. I have no consistent pattern. I generally wish I edited more than I actually do.

What’s the strangest place you’ll be performing at? Have ever performed at?

CB: Last Nationals, Providence was in a bout on the President Casino, which is a boat. A casino boat. That’s about as bad as it’s been.

What advice do you have for anyone planning a spoken-word tour? For anyone aspiring to be a spoken-word artist?

CB: For those planning a tour, milk any friends you have who have already been on tour for all they’re worth. That’s what I did. I don’t think there’s that much aspiration involved in being a spoken-word artist. You just start talking. Unfortunately, everyone has to start at square one. It’s almost never pretty.

What are the three things you can’t go on tour without?

CB: Is this serious? Oh, god. Tampons? Ha.

What’s the first thing you plan to do when you get back?

CB: If by back, you mean home, and by home, you mean where the heart is, I’m going to eat his face like an ice cream sandwich.


Author: schenelle

Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction in Jersey City, NJ. Co-author of Using Informational Text to Teach literature series. Doctoral student in Teacher Education and Teacher Development at Montclair State University.

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