The first time I saw a spoken word poet was in New York City. I knew nothing of it and I don’t know why I went. The Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side. The 1st EVER Def Poetry Jam, Russell Simmons and me. It was a sign. That day I went alone and sat in the balcony. I was hijacked, attacked, whacked by words, rhyme and meter. I didn’t know what spoken word was but knowing rap I was a leader, I related. I couldn’t predict the future of my history. My past was no mystery. My culture was “SUBURBAN teenage white girl listening and dancing to the underground am radio station W-HAT Saturday morning rap program with host Lady D.” Before rap was mainstream. That’s right, white girl me.
Fast forward 25 years later. Writing rapping poetry was to be my therapy. After he left me with two boys, toys, and noise, theirs… and mine in my head. Spitting violent, angry, broken, rhymes, confusion, disillusion was raping my mind. It had to flee me… getting it out with pen and paper. It was there I could shout rant, scream, cry, release… I purged my demons out.
Intimidated by Def Poetry Jam, how do you get to poetry land? I feel inadequate no Master’s Degree, I’m a high school drop out with a college degree, in dance. I home school me with verse imagery, read the best Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, 18th century?… Study Youtube artists Mayda del Valle, Big Poppa E, Taylor Mali, Gemineye, and of course it always comes back to rap music moving me.
Who am I? Do I have a say? Do I have a voice? Is it a requirement to teach English to claim the label poet? Emotional intellectuals do I need a MFA? I think not that’s what I say, criteria is in Liberia. Anyone here have a degree from Liberia?
I looked up spoken word poet… on Wiki because I’m a scholar poet…without a dollar, Holla. By the way, did you know the Poet Laureate earns $35,000 dollars a year? No Holla. The dynamics of tone, gestures, facial expressions, performance, I got that down. To MEMORIZE, I want to hide, I told you I was a dancer. The fear of that skill alone will paralyze me into a zone of failure, not willing to try. Fuck that, keep falling forward. Set an example for other wanna be’s, because we are.
I’m a poet, I know it. I just say what I say about today, tomorrow or yesterday. It comes from my soul and moves through my heart out my mouth expressing itself in words information, communication, investigations of thought, emotion, observations. How do I get to The New Yorker, Tin House, Ploughshares and The American Poetry Review? I trust the Maker of my destiny, it’s already mapped out what is meant to be will be.
To answer my questions, I do have a say, I do have a voice, I claim the label POET. Who defines Mary G? Me, I validate me. I have stuff to say. I’m a spoken word poet, practicing, just for today.