After listening to A Tribe Called Quest’s most recent album, We The People, I began thinking of my role as a poet in today’s world. It’s not the first time I thought about the position we all have as artists — where do we fit? — but I have placed myself within the binaries of what I’m allowed.
I feel that my little planet is pronounced by the hood I grew up in and the things I witnessed as a kid. What has intimidated me is how I shape this voice as a poet/writer. But I realized that this voice began taking its form when I was growing up. My brother would come up with bars to spit on a beat. I followed rap battles vicariously through him, my favorite being when Nas murdered Jay-Z in “Ether.” It was a Brooklyn-Queens thang.
As a shy, book-worm, growing up I stayed away from practicing this. But I thrived through these lyrics, Pac reminded me to “Keep Your Head Up” and Biggie taught me that “Sky’s the Limit.” Everyday, I was a witness to how the system failed my community. The melodies I found in their lyrics kept me going because they looked at the world I was seeing everyday and told me that I could push pass that bullshit. Much of what I’ve struggled with this semester is creating my own sound, something that I still don’t think I’ve managed to create.
In a talk last night with Carolina, I began to conceive the idea that this “sound”/voice is created over time. She told me that since I’ve written narratives, I need to write these kinds of poems (I’ll write a blog post on narrative poetry in a bit.) I’ve just started writing poetry. It’s difficult for me to identify as a poet for this reason, but it’s exactly what I am and what I have been for most of my life.
LL Cool J says that we are “metaphorical freaks” in a song and says that he’s creates a movie. I began questioning what this meant in terms of accessibility. How could I make sense of the world I was brought up in and transfer this so that people from my community could understand me? Maybe what we call Geneseo poetry has stunted me from getting there, but what I’ve learned is that I need to keep going. I need to go back home, back to my roots. Back to authenticity. Geneseo is like a reprieve. It took me away from this for a while, for many reasons. But the music that booms through my earphones reminds me who I am and what I grew up with.
Lend me your thoughts, PAAAA-LEASEEE.