During writing time for class, I tend to strictly listen to music as a way to focus and extract new ideas or perspectives on a piece. So far, it has proven as a gateway to writing some of my favorite works. Recently, I have begun to dive into my love for slam poetry once again instead of the usual playlists. It is a theme that I intend to achieve in my senior showcase, so I thought that maybe I should look at some examples of what I would like for it to look like. There, I found some of my favorite performances and impactful pieces that correlates to the black experience and the beauty of intersectionality. I would like to share with you some of my favorite pieces and dissect them a little…
Kai Davis- Ain’t I A Woman
Kai prefaces a story in the beginning of the video that really brought the poem together. She says that in her class that there was a discussion about the separation of blackness and gender and how her professor believed that you were “black” before you are a “woman”. Well Kai rightfully disagrees stating that the two coincide and that you cannot be one without the other. To which said statement receives backlash from her male peers and even her professor. However she took notice to the complicity and silence of her female peers. It affected her so much so that she wrote this beautiful piece. Throughout reading I felt all the boxes being checked of what kind of poetry that I aspire to write and the message that I wish to spread. “Too black to be a woman, not man enough to be black”, or “Ask him to stop calling my scars sacrifices, calling my suffering an inconvenience” were just some of the lines that really stood out to me. It was both a new and fresh telling of the life of a black woman and yet it felt familiar as if I already knew the words. The poem felt like a warm hug, like my experiences were not isolated. It made me want to write pieces where people could see themselves in it just like Kia’s. I could feel her anger, her frustration, her eagerness for understanding, and her hope through the changes in her voice. Her performance was a reflection of what it poem achieved and I thought that it was so beautiful to see an active comparison between the two. This was one poem out of a set so I highly recommend that you listen to the others.
Tolu Obiwole and Ashia Ajani- Black College
I really love to see performances where there is more than one person, especially in the back and forth format, I feel like it work perfectly with this piece. I especially like the parts where they would speak together, it added perfect emphases on the lines I felt were most impactful. I really liked this piece because of how widely relatable it was. It is about the nuances of adjusting to PWI’s and the isolation you feel when being the only black person. It is something that I could relate to as the nervousness and awkwardness expressed in the piece were a reflection of mine. There were a lot of points made throughout the performance of which I felt were the perfect balance of explanation and the giving a non-black listener the task of figuring out. The rhythm added such a impactful punch to the noteworthy themes in this poem. Like always I highly recommend that you give it a listen.
Steven Willis- How the Hood Loves You Back
This performance has to be my favorite of the three. It had the love, the sorrow, and the anger balanced so brilliantly. It brought literal tears to my eyes because of the frustration I felt in his voice and in his movements it was hypnotic to witness. I got chills when he began to describe the way in which the hood can show love in the most violent of ways. He did so in a way that wasn’t historically dehumanizing or critical and I really appreciated it. Lines like “This is no longer Jefferson’s Avenue, but where Twig got shot” or “If the Hood Loves you, she’ll write it in tombstone tats” felt so heart-wrenching to hear but so beautifully spoken. Once again the bass in his voice really added to the urgency of this topic and how uniquely painful this niche form of love is. I beg with the utmost urgency to give this piece a listen.