Spoken Word Performance

Quote of the century: “I won’t rap like you ‘cuz dog I’m Asian, I eat cats like you.”

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Tonight, I had the luxury to attend a spoken word poetry event featuring the creative G. Yamazawa, recognized chiefly for his poem, “Elementary”.

To be blunt, I wasn’t sure how this event was going to go. Was he going to tell a few anecdotes to pass the time? Was he just going to dive right into his spoken word poetry? Was he going to be very active with the audience or not at all? And most importantly, what pieces was he going to perform? First and foremost, the turnout was greater than I expected. Although I anticipated an animated room in which most of the seats were filled, as this was likely an awaited event promoted mostly by English professors wanting us to get a dose of refinement, I didn’t expect the room to be so full that students were sitting on the floor and hanging out on the overhang above the lower level where the event took place. Spoken word poetry is a desired taste, like tofu or vegemite, that many people I know find intolerable, therefore, it was actually illuminating to see so many people around me as attentive in the art form as I was.

Yamazawa opened up strong with “10 Things About Being Asian in The South”, which, next to “Dear Grandma”, was my favorite rhythmically and craftily. Bells went off in my head the moment the humor in his piece shined through and made a fool of those who hit him with ignorance. In addition, I feel as though I speak for everyone when I say that the line “I won’t rap like you ‘cuz dog I’m Asian, I eat cats like you,” was the upmost perfect ending for the slam poem he put forward. What was even better was how he took that line and regurgitated it into a story based off experience, describing how he presented the witty line to others and they didn’t quite appreciate it as much as we did. This leads me to the question, how could we, the audience, possibly be against entertaining narrations succeeding, complementing, and setting up following pieces?

Here’s another question: could anyone tell how enormously eager I got when he announced he was going to end the event with “Elementary?” In my English class, we were forced to watch him recite the poem twice, thus, I found a thrill within the sound of mp3’s turning into the live real deal; take the simple example of only listening to your favorite song off iTunes until one day, you hear it performed live. An unexplainable exhilaration took over my senses and throughout the whole performance I was hyped up and smiling, knowing that a simple YouTube performance translated into a tangible experience before my eyes. Hearing it live adds to the level of immersion and engagement amidst the aura and vibe of the room. The line “I hated myself for the shape of my eyes so I became a bully, because we all want to feel like America sometimes” was notable to say the least, and for some reason, I find it to be my favorite line from “Elementary,” even though I can’t exactly pin-point why. It screams ‘the truth,’ yet whispers ‘I’m not sorry’…

All in all, Yamazawa was lively and enthusiastic throughout the whole event, as well as attentive in his surroundings. He, as many live performers do, interacted with the audience by asking simple questions like “where are you from?” and “who has seen spoken word poetry before?” As the hour ended and his routine window closed, I hopped on a short line of individuals enthusiastic to talk to him, and I can vouch firsthand that he was genuinely excited to be there, interact, and exchange common life experiences with whomever was presented.

With love, Alyssa

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