The slam poet Geoff Kagan Trenchard doesn’t mince words. In the poem “Where Did I Get My Sense of Humor?”–a tribute to his Jewish heritage, and to his rebellion against it–he says right away:
Being the only kid who celebrated Hanukkah
in elementary school felt exactly like being the
only one who didn’t believe in God at synagogue.
Trenchard intersperses Holocaust jokes with stories of anti-Semitism he encountered growing up, and then the poem climaxes in a screaming rejection, both of the anti-Semitic kids and of organized Jewish culture.
His other poems are similarly impassioned. In one, Trenchard describes giving a poetry workshop at Riker’s Island Prison. In another, he muses about being a father who writes about dark, violent things. (One of Trenchard’s poems, which takes place inside the minds of the Columbine killers, was made into a music video that went viral on YouTube.)
As an artist, he deals with the dark side of reality, but always brings humor and creativity to his work: One poem tells of Jewish gangster Hyman Roth (from The Godfather) paying a visit to Bernie Madoff on the day of Madoff’s sentencing. (You can read it here, halfway down.) They trade stories, first of their conquests, then of their pitfalls: “Think on this when the prosecutor looks at you like it’s only Jews who bleed green,” Roth warns Madoff. “All money has at least some blood on it. In a large pile, it stinks like a corpse.”