National Poetry Slam champions perform spoken word for students

Morganne Ramsey

Although there were two microphones situated at the front of the stage, the poets didn’t use them at all after the end of their first poem in order to move around the stage and have a more active performance.

National Poetry Slam champions Sekou Andrews (also known as Sekou Tha Misfit) and Steve Connell performed a free show for students May 27 in Rugby Auditorium.

Andrews and Connell performed spoken word – which is different than a poetry reading.

“Spoken word is poetry written from the ground up to be performed,” Andrews said. “The stage is part of the process.”

The poets performed four poems during the show. The show began and concluded with a poem featuring both Andrews and Connell, and each poet performed one poem individually.

During his solo poem, “The Awesome Anthem,” Andrews got down on his knees.

In the final poem of the show, “Felt That Spit,” the first poem they wrote together, Connell stalked Andrews from the middle of the stage to the side.

“Just yesterday I was shot 41 times,” Andrews said, recoiling repeatedly as Connell mimed shooting a gun at his chest. “Filled with 41 bloody holes, and all I was doing officer was reaching for a poem that would reach your soul.”

A main theme of the show was encouraging confidence – the focal point of Andrews’ poem “The Awesome Anthem,” which Andrews described as “an anthem to get you through whatever you’re going through.”

“The census bureau just released a report that two out of every three people are awesome,” Andrews said. “If that is true, then out of you and you and me, the question we must now ask ourselves is ‘Which one of you two is the one that sucks? Because I am awesome.’”

In his poem, “The Newborn Laws of Motion,” Conell said that, “Greatness is for everyone brave enough to get there.”

The other poem they performed was titled   “Music.”

The poets also spoke about how they got their start in poetry. Both began writing poetry in high school – Connell would write a poem every year on Martin Luther King Day in honor of King.

Andrews on the other hand only began seriously writing poetry after trying to make a career as a rapper, citing the attitude of people involved in spoken word as a reason for his making the switch into spoken word poetry.

He said that spoken word was all about the word, while with hip-hop he had to worry about whether or not it sounded like what the record companies wanted and thought would sell.
Andrews said that he and Connell want to try to create a commercially viable industry out of spoken word poetry.

However, they perform poetry because of their love of it.

“Poetry is proof there is one spirit broke in seven billion plus parts,” Connell said. “Poetry is proof we are all connected.”