Originally posted on 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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