Monthly Archives: January 2013

TED Blog

Spoken word artist Lemon Andersen begins today’s talk with the poem, “Please Don’t Take My Air Jordans,” written by Reg E. Gaines in 1994.

My Air Jordans cost a hundred with tax.
My suede Starter jacket says Raiders on the back.
I’m stylin’, smilin’ looking real mean,
Cause it ain’t about bein’ heard.
Just about bein’ seen.

For Andersen, hearing this poem was a click moment. As he shares in today’s talk, given at TEDYouth 2011, this poem showed him the power of spoken word. After hearing it, he began following Gaines obsessively.

“I thought poetry was just self expression,” explains Andersen. “[Gaines] handed me a black-and-white printed out thesis on a poet named Etheridge Knight and ‘The Aural Nature of Poetry’ … What Etheridge Knight taught me was that I can make my words sound like music. Even my smalls ones, the monosyllables — the if

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self expression

This is an example of how expressive poetry is effective in expressing thoughts and emotion. The irony of this particular poem lies in the fact that he is talkin about ‘flashy words’ – highlightin the power of words in swaying our perceptions in refelection to the formation of our ideologies within society at large.

That begs the question, how much of your ‘self’ is conveyed in the utterances constructed within interactions?

Sometimes poetry exposes some suppressed perceptions. I find myself writing about issues and ideas that dwel too far down, in the pits of the subconcious mind, that it is almost news to me when I read it after a while. So I wonder if that which permeates through in interations can be truly expressions of ‘self’ or something else; perhaps expressions influenced by the social template of self. As Shihan puts it, ‘you find out that your life is one of the saddest fictions ever written’.

The beauty of poetry is the way it allows you to mould your emotions in a way that is much closer to the truth which only you can feel. It is those true sentiments that flow through to form a poem. It is the same way a poem that starts about trees becomes a reflection of your childhood crush.

But words are now taken for granted; thrown about lightly; losing their meaning. authenticity is becoming obsolete in daily interactions. It is becoming more and more taboo to speak about certain issues out loud, or refer to things bluntly as they really are. You are now advised not to be too honest. Not in the world of poetry! Speak up, Speak loud, Speak now!