Inspiration comes in all forms. We as humans can be touched and moved mentally or emotionally through any number of situations or stimuli. Many choose poetry by which to be moved or to move others. Spoken work poetry can take the passion to new levels. However interpretation and presentation can differ by environment.
Whole Food Market. A place that markets itself to today’s health conscience rich white yuppies and to the “earthy” green collage aged. This was the location of 2nd Friday, a featured poet poetry read sponsored by St. Louis Poetry Center. In the cafe at Whole Foods the sounds of the grocery store float in above the voice of a male librarian in his 50’s; plaid down shirt tucked into cuffed khakis. He recites from the papers on the podium words about images in photos on a table. This is his poetry. Sterile words with no emotion pass through the small crowd of parents and grandparents of suburban America. Quizzical smiles shine back at the poet.
These words tell of the things the poet sees. That is all. They don’t show. They don’t evoke. There is no metaphoric value to the words that were spoken there. And those who were there received those words with golf claps that satisfied the reader. The floral sundresses and sport coat plaids reveled in the dry worded images of a coffee cup or laundry on a wire. They gathering then dispersed after a few songs played acoustically by a recent high school grad as some left immediately and others grabbed carts and baskets in which to collect this next week’s cookings.
Legacy Books & Cafe. Urban new and use bookstore. Rich with history. Black history. Rich with culture. Black culture. Rich with social conscience and relevance. In a secluded room away from the bookstore, faces of excitement gather at tables arranged facing a stage where two men play; one on keyboards, one on drums. Jazz Funk Fusion melds the air into atmosphere.
The music fades into the background as a pale shorthaired woman takes the stage with her clipboard to welcome all who have dared enter to read at open mike. She moves quickly to introduce each poet to the stage.
A muscular black man sporting jeans, t-shirt and ball cap takes to the mike. He motions for the music to quiet. Silence. His hands rise stretched out to the room. Words burst forth from his lips with passion. The mouths of onlookers open in whoops and hollers as if to proclaim “amen”. As the man spews social conscience poetically over the audience, raw passion explodes in every color of the spectrum. Spoken word performances continue throughout the evening. Words from East St. Louis are spoken and preformed passionately under spotlight addressing gangsta lifestyle with its sagging pants and guns as an answer to conflict.
After introduction from the pale woman’s clipboard, another man approaches the mike overcoming a mild speech ailment with passion to convey the need for God and morality in the Christian church. Halfway through his spoken performance he gets lost in his shortcoming and is embraced by the on looking crowd to continue his raw speech wearing his heart on his sleeve.
There were more words from other speakers who opened their hearts and portfolios to tell of love and loss, domestic violence and freedom. Hearts and emotions were exposed without second thought. The passion and performance here at Legacy rose in significance above the sterile picture words at Whole Foods Cafe.
Poetry by definition is subjective and different styles speak differently to different folks. Inspiration can come to the wordsmith from anything anywhere at anytime traversing class, socio-economics and preference of genre and topic.