Graphic by Stephen Hillrich. Photography by James Menk.
Written by James Menk. Media by Stephen Hillrich.
As brash as it may be to say, the words spoken by spoken word poets have been known to paint the most detailed murals across the inner dome of countless heads. As defined by Glenn North (2008) for The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, “Spoken word poetry is poetry that is written on a page but performed for an audience. Because it is performed, this poetry tends to demonstrate a heavy use of rhythm, improvisation, free association, rhyme, rich poetic phrases, word play and slang. It is more aggressive and ‘in your face’ than more traditional forms of poetry”. This Tuesday, that raw entertainment value that only poetry can provide blared through Greenville at terminal velocity.
On March 4, 2014, Greenville College hosted a spoken word event in the Upper Union at 8:00. Everybody that attending had the privilege to hear some of the most beautiful poetry from students such as Beth Watkens, Leo Smith-Butler, and Ben Barber; as well as a guest performance by Ezekiel Azonwu.
Beth delivered a breathtaking cover piece titled “Letter to a Bully” as her opening act and followed it with a couple of originals – ending in another cover. While performing, Beth admitted to being fairly nervous, and even though her knees showed the slightest hint of tremor, the words of her original piece “For My Mother: An Apology” stood true as a iron-clad sledge hammer pummeling at the hearts of the audience.
Leo followed with a couple of incredibly insightful journeys through the ups and downs of relationships. His original piece “The Great Escape” served as an enlightened memoir of a rough relationship.
Ben Barber broke the ice with a very fluid and heavy rap; and afterwords transitioned into a provocative poem about his struggles with God. Through his untitled poem, he gracefully explored the profound idea of reassurance within God and the all-familiar life crisis that human beings face during certain periods of time.
Ezeikiel, along with being the guest performer, was a veteran of spoken word poetry. He let his best colors shine through his four original poems, starting with “Beauty and the Beast”. This piece started as a brilliantly painted documentation of the inner transformation that took place inside of him upon meeting his wife and, after an elegant transition, it ended as a powerful parallel to the weathered yet eternally-unbroken relationship between man and God.
By the end of the night, a certain creative energy could be felt through the air. Those lucky enough to have attended left with a widened sense of linguistic elasticity as well as a wealthy cache of profound thoughts and ideas. One can only hope a spoken word event will be planned in the very near future and that the performers from this Tuesday return with more ever-so provocative art.
Video via official youTube channel of Ezekiel Azonwu