A must watch and a must listen.
Jasmine Mans, a University of Wisconsin scholar and poet of The Strivers Row, calls out the rap game in her captivating live performance of “You Gone Get This Work” at Stage 48.
This piece is featured on New Jersey poet’s free, debut mixtape titled Black Boy Gold, which takes on both the physical and the mental demise of the black man and black boys.
Watch Jasmine Mans’ performance of “You Gone Get This Work.”
Stream/download Jasmine Mans’ mixtape below.
San Diego-based spoken word artist Rudy Francisco will certainly tug at your heartstrings with “Love Poem Medley.” He performed this beautiful piece at Mira Costa College back in 2010. Watch his performance below and, if you’d like, read along.
I want you to bite my lip until I can no longer speak. And then suck my ex girlfriend’s name out of my mouth just to make sure she never comes up in our conversations. I’m going to be honest, I’m not really a love poet. In fact, every time I try to write about love my hands cramp… just to show me how painful love can be. And sometimes my pencils break, just to prove to me that every now and then love takes a little more work than you planned.
See I heard that love is blind so, I write all my poems in braille. And my poems are never actually finished because true love is endless. I always believed that real love is kind of like a super model before she’s air brushed; it’s pure and imperfect, just the way that God intended. See I’m going to be honest, I’m not a love poet. But if I was to wake up tomorrow morning and decide that I really wanted to write about love I swear that my first poem… it would be about you.
About how I loved you the same way that I learned how to ride a bike: Scared…but reckless with no training wheels or elbow pads so my scars can tell the story of how I fell for you. You see, I’m not really a love poet. But if I was I’d write about how I see your face in every cloud and your reflection in every window, you see I’ve written like a million poems hoping that somehow maybe someway you’ll jump out of the page and be closer to me because if you were here, right now, I would massage your back until your skin sings songs that your lips don’t even know the words to.
Until your heartbeat sounds like my last name and you smile like the pacific ocean, I want to drink the sunlight in your skin. If I was a love poet, I’d write about how you have the audacity to be beautiful, even on days when everything around you is ugly you see I’d write about your eyelashes and how they are like violin strings that play symphonies every time you blink.
If I was a love poet I’d write about how I melt in front of you like an ice sculpture, every time I hear the vibration in your voice so whenever I see your name on the caller ID my heart, it plays hop scotch inside of my chest. Yo it climbs on to my ribs like monkey bars and I feel like a child all over again. I know this sounds strange but every now and then I pray that God somehow turns you back in to one of my ribs just so that I would never have to spend an entire day without you.
I swear, I’m not a love poet. But if I was to wake up tomorrow morning and decide that I really wanted to write about love, my first poem it would be about you. And after all of that she was like, so how do you feel about me? And I said, put it like this: I want to be your ex boyfriend’s stunt man. I want to do everything that he never had the courage to do like… trust you.
I swear that when our lips touch I can taste the next sixty years of my life. And some days I want to swallow stacks of your pictures just so you can be a part of me for a little bit longer. If I could I would sample your smile and then I would let my heart beat, do the bass line, we would create the greatest love song of all time. Whenever, we stand next to each other, love I was the only one made for you and you can be at last my Etta James. I’ll be oh child when you’re in pain or you could be candy coated drops of rain even though it never rains in Southern California. And together, we could be music.
And when my friends ask if you’re my girlfriend, I’ll say no. She is my musician. And me… I’m her favorite song.
Watch Rudy Francisco perform “Love Poem Medley” below.
Chicago youth poet Malcom London breaks down the cycling patterns of the survival of the fittest mentality within the schooling system in this spoken word piece entitled “High School Training Ground.” As noted by the folks at TED Talks Education, “he tells of the ‘oceans of adolescence’ who come to school ‘but never learn to swim,’ of ‘masculinity mimicked by men who grew up with no fathers.’”
Watch Malcolm London’s compelling performance of ”High School Training Ground.”
Photo by Quintessential E
“How many deaths will it take, before this is considered genocide?”
In 2009, HBO ran an inspiring, documentary-series entitled Russel Simmons Presents Brave New Voices that followed the journey of six diverse teams of teenagers, as they prepared for a national poetry slam competition held in Washington D.C.
The new generation of poets penned pieces that would leave lasting impressions—one in particular, entitled “Lost Count: A Love Story” by Chicago teens Nate Marshall & Demetrius Amparan. “Lost Count: A Love Story” is a chilling, spoken word poem that reflects on the escalating gun violence in Chicago. Fast forward four years later and the message in this piece sadly remains relevant today, with the latest victim being 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins, who was shot 5 times. R.I.P.
Watch Nate Marshall & Demetrius Amparan perform“Lost Count: A Love Story” below.
Poet Miles Hodges performed his piece entitled “From Head to Toe” at Love, Sweat and Tears: The Strivers Row Valentine’s Day Show, along with the sounds of André 3000′s “Prototype” by Brooklyn-based songbird Bridget Barkan.
Watch Miles Hodges “From Head to Toe” performance below.
Spoken word artist Missterious Janette…ikz, hailing from California, addresses the issues of sexual abuse by revealing her personal account in this powerful video for Pure Path‘s series called 13 Floor.
When you enter the elevator of a high rise building you will seldom find the button for the 13th floor. It’s because of fear, superstition, or ignorance, that we pretend it doesn’t exist. The “13th floor” issues of abortion, sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and the sanctity of human life have become a widely unrecognized reality, accompanied by a basic fear of people, to honestly address these issues.
Watch Missterious Janette…ikz’s poem on sexual abuse below.
Zora Howard, a poet/actress hailing from Harlem, NY and currently studying comparative literature at Yale University, recites her piece titled “Walking” for Soul Features x The Strivers Row‘s collaborative poetry series in London.
He meant to say, “I never met a lyrical goddess
That uses hyphens and haikus
To prove that really God is.
I thought Nefertiti was dead
And never wanted to believe in queens
Except queen bees like Lil’ Kim
Watch her performance of “Walking” below.
Meet Kioni “Popcorn” Marshall, an extraordinary 12-year-old poet from the Bronx. Despite her age, Kioni has earned the respect and admiration of the NYC poetry community by developing her own unique voice and bravely exploring mature themes like alienation, abandonment, loneliness, and abuse. Follow Kioni’s emotional journey as she prepares for her first featured performance at New York’s famed Nuyorican Poets Cafe.