"Poets are one rung below mimes on the food chain," he laments. Most of the open-mic poetry nights at local cafés have withered--"poetry just doesn't bring in the money," he says--and the poetry slam scene "is kind of dead here. Tucson is the only city in the region without a real, competitive slam scene. It has a thriving poetry scene, but without the slams."
Funk has reservations about slams, because they tend to focus on competition rather than expression. So, rather than try to rev up the poetic equivalent of a battle of the bands, Funk is bringing the performance element of poetry to community-access television.
"Thousands of people across the country are doing cine-poems," he says. "That's what I've moved into. There's only so much you can do just standing in front of a microphone. We use video and music, and we do characters. It got started in the 1950s, but pretty much died out with the beat poets. But now, with the evolution of PCs, people can do all sorts of video stuff at home."
And put it on cable TV.
This month, he has three related productions in rotation. Every Monday at 8 p.m. on Channel 73 is The FunKtional Adix Showcase Special, nearly 90 minutes of material shot at the Wilde Playhouse and elsewhere, featuring performances by David Mitchell, Drug BBQ, Albert Lannon, Dr. E and Funk himself.
It's a mixed bag of material, ranging from one guy standing at a mic and reading from a phony newspaper to a woman reciting her work while a male dancer cavorts behind and beside her, with music and video effects.
The special includes two not exactly poetic productions by Funk: "Words of Mass Deception," in which he conducts a supposedly live interview with members of the Bush administration, their answers culled from video press conferences; and "A Pledge of Resistance," a short documentary about an anti-war protest demonstration and discussion of poets' roles in social protest.
Those two pieces are incorporated into The Passion of the Bush, airing every Saturday at 1 p.m. on Channel 73. It's a political-protest series with a new episode every month.
"Hopefully, it'll go up just to December," says Funk.
Also new every month is the half-hour series The FunKtional Adix Showcase, with material akin to what's in the special. This series runs Wednesdays at midnight on Channel 72 and Sundays at 1 a.m. on Channel 73.
As usual for local-access shows, the production values can be rough. But if you want smooth, dig up old videos of the PBS series Anyone for Tennyson? Cine-poetry is something else.