Marshall ‘Soulful’Jones – A ‘Şiirbaz’ and his poem ‘Touchscreen’

In Turkish, şiir (pronounced shear) means poem and sihirbaz literally means magic master or wizard. So we’ve created a new word, şiirbaz or poem master, word wizard or possibly even poetician. A poetician being someone who is as adept at word play as a politician, but with all the lies taken out.

Someone we think worthy of the title ‘Şiirbaz’ is Marshall Soulful Jones, poet, performer, musician and as we found upon contacting him, one of life’s gentlemen.

We recently did a show at the 8th Cevre ELT conference. The conference title was ‘Teacher and Student Duet: Rhythm – Harmony – Dynamism in Language Learning,’ and the title of our talk was ‘Built in Bounce’ a title we lifted from the poet Jan Dean. We started proceedings with a clip of Marshall performing ‘Touchscreen,’ an ode to the dehumanising, alienating effect of too much on-line interaction and not enough face to face time.

We contacted Marshall after Çevre and told him how well the poem had been received by the 450 strong audience and asked if we could post the words to the poem. He not only graciously gave his permission but immediately sent us an email with the words. So here it is in all its glory:

Touchscreen

Introducing the new Apple I person complete with multitouch
doesn’t it feel good to touch?
doesn’t it feel good to touch?

compatible with your iPod and your iPad
doesn’t it feel good to touch?
doesn’t it feel good to touch?
your life is an app
your strife is an app
your wife is an app
doesn’t it feel good to touch?
doesn’t it feel good to touch?

my world has become so digital
I have forgotten what that feels like it was difficult to connect when friends formed clicks
now it’s even more difficult to connect
now that cliques form friends
But who am I to judge
I face Facebook
more than books face me
hoping to
book face-to-faces
update my status
420 spaces
to prove I’m still breathing
failure to do this daily
means my whole web wide world would forget that I exist
but with 3000 friends online
only five I can count in real life
why wouldn’t I spend more time in a world where there are more people that ‘like’ me
Wouldn’t you?
Here, it doesn’t matter
if I’m an amateur person
as long as I have a ‘pro’ file
my smile is 50% genuine
50% genuine HD
You would need Blu-rays to read what is really me
but I’m not that focused
10 tabs open
hopin’
my problems are resolved with a 1500 by 1600 resolution
provin’ there is an error in this evolution
doubled over we used to sit in treetops
till we swung down to stand upright
then someone slipped a disc
now we’re doubled over at desktops from the garden of Eden
to the branches of Macintosh
apple picking has always come at a great cost
iPod iMac iPhone iChat
I can do all of these things without making eye contact
We used to sprint to pick and store blackberries
now we run to the sprint store to pick Blackberries
it’s scary
can’t hear the sound of mother nature speaking over all this tweeting
and our ability to feel along with it is fleeting
You’d think these headphone jacks inject into flesh
the way we connect to disconnect
power on
till we are powerless
they have us love drugged
Like e-pills
so we E*TRADE
email
e-motion
like e-commerce
because now money can buy love
for 995 a month
click
to proceed to checkout
click
to x out where our hearts once where
click
I’ve uploaded this hug I hope she gets it
click
I’m spending time with my wife I hope she’s logged in
click
I’m holding my daughter over a Skype conference call while she’s crying in the crib in the next room
click
so when my phone goes off of my hip iTouch iTouch iTouch and iTouch because in a world
Where laughter is never heard
And voices are only read
we’re so desperate to feel
that we hope our Technologic can reverse the universe
until the screens touch us back
and maybe one day they will
when our technology is advanced enough …
to make us human again

As with all performance poetry, the power of the poem is as much about the performance craft of the poet as it is about the words. So now you’ve read the poem, I urge that you click on the link below for the full Marshall Soulful Jones experience. Sit back and watch a ‘Şiirbaz’ at work.

http://youtu.be/GAx845QaOck

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About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to istanbuljohnm@hotmail.co.uk.
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16 Responses to Marshall ‘Soulful’Jones – A ‘Şiirbaz’ and his poem ‘Touchscreen’

  1. I love this poem! and his performance is amazing!!
    Thank you for sharing guys 😉

  2. Marshall Jones says:

    Wow! I am honored to be the impetus of a new term. Thank you so much for sharing my work and being part of my small contribution in changing the world.

    • hanna says:

      your work is amazing i will love to hear more from you also liked the father one i have to make a slam poem i am finding it so hard lots of love hanna

    • Dmm says:

      Thank you for your wonderful poem and skill, Marshall. It’s so incredibly insightful and accurate… It’s also desperate, as I relate to it so well. I disconnect as often as I can, but find myself continuously drawn back in. Gads. Ouch.

  3. And we’re honoured …thanks for taking the time to stop by and post a comment, Marshall. We’re thinking about having şiirbaz tshirts made up with your b/w picture on the front – just call us poetry groupies:)

  4. Henry brothers –Thank you! Any chance you could email me (today?) the lyrics? Trying to copy and paste for a poetry residency that begins tomorrow –I want to offer it in writing to the students before I show the video performance. But when i cut & paste, the formatting gets horribly messed up. By the way, LOVE the invention of this word şiirbaz! you are wonderful! i’m at movingthestory@gmail.com Thank you so much in advance!

  5. createacher says:

    This is an “age-poem” for me, like “Wasteland” which depicts the early twentieth century’s wasted lands, wasted people, wasted loves, wasted lives, wasted soldiers, wasted lovers, etc. “Touchscreen” depicts our lives, wasted in another way, in the digital age 🙂

  6. Aartiyeh says:

    A lovely picturisation of the digital world in poetry. The time is not for away to get the wishes fulfilled. ( Already machines started talking to us. )

  7. Motwera says:

    Reblogged this on Motwera and commented:
    Amazing, and unfortunately sad to know that this is exactly what I am with billions of other people around me around the globe 😦

  8. I’m so glad to have found this post…deliciously enthralling!

  9. Desseray says:

    this poem is inspiring and makes you want to, not really use the technonlgy anymore and makes you think about how much evolution has changed us in so many different ways.

  10. Samantha says:

    Does anyone know when he was born or his age
    Does anyone know where he was born?

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