Philly Performance Poet, Marty Watt

Marty Watt paved the way for post-Beat performance poets in the early 1970s. Even if they never caught his legendary act, Gerard McKeown, Lydia Lunch and Laurie Anderson benefited from the work of the Philly-born improvisational poet/no wave instigator. “Before Marty, there was nothing like ‘performance poetry,’” says singer-songwriter Kenn Kweder, whose stage act takes cues from Watt’s schtick. “He wasn’t light years ahead of his time, he was light decades ahead.”

Watt didn’t read or recite. He hyperactively psycho-babbled his way through spontaneous ruminations on whatever struck his fancy, often with the accompaniment of elaborate stage sets and props. Later, Watt’s manic, panicky performances grew eerily musical with a backing band of then-Philly all-stars — including Chris Larkin and Hank Ransome — mixing elements of noise and dub reggae.
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