One of the greatest poets of our time, and one of my personal inspirations, Saul Williams is coming back to Kentucky to perform at Berea College on Friday, February 20th. I saw Saul Williams at Univ. of Kentucky back on Feb 19, 2007 and it was religious.
My story with Saul starts with me being in High School at the Kroger next door to my parents sports shop and being sick. I was looking for a movie and saw this film called Slam and I was wanting something mindless and I figured it was probably a sports movie or something. I rented it without reading the synopsis on the back of the video, took it home and my life changed forever. Before that time, poetry meant Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare or Frost. Saul made me realize that there is as much poetry in hip hop as in any of Poe or any other poet’s finest works as he ripped through lines like “never question who i am/god knows/and i know god personally / in fact, he lets me call him me“, “they’re tryin’ to imprison my astrology/to put my stars behind bars/my stars in stripes/using blood spattered banners as nationalist kites” and “if i could find the spot where truth echoes/i would stand there and whisper memories of my children’s future“. I was writing a lot at that time and all of my attention was redirected towards slam poetry but found poetry everywhere. I didn’t have much access to the internets in the late 90s, so it was virtually impossible for me to find anything out about him. Fast forward to college and the internets brings me his first two books “The Seventh Octave” and “S√he” and several audio tracks including “1987“, “Twice the First Time” and “Ohm” as well as the recorded version of his reading several poems that came with “S√he” which is when I learned that Ginsberg wasn’t the only one writing truly epic poems because now we had Gypsy Girl and Coded Language…two poems I know by heart to this day and will probably never forget. Combining this flood of inspiration with a recently broken heart, I pumped Saul’s words into the Station House courtyard and wrote a lot while sitting in the small quasi-garden. Years later, while in Lexington for grad school I finally took my poetry to a stage. Once I performed and left the stage, Jai Hamilton from the Dialectics gave me one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received…something along the lines of that it sounded like it could have been written by Saul Williams (without sounding like a knock-off).
Months later I had the opportunity to see Saul Williams do his spoken word and he killed the crowd. People were crying. He stood at the front of the crowd like a prophet preaching his word and hosting a Q&A between pieces explaining everything from the way the Beastie Boys embrace of breakbeats changed the way hip hop was viewed from then on, downplayed the fact his books are being taught in college courses and explained the role of fashion early in the genre.
I may have set your expectations too high. Many of you may have checked into Saul when he released his album last year under the Pay What You Want model and you might have hated it. Musically, Saul can be a little abrasive, although I like most of what he has done largely due to my fandom, but you need to know that his spoken word stuff varies significantly from his trip hop musical endeavors which aren’t for everyone, and you really should plan on jumping in the car with me and heading to Berea on February 20th.
I haven’t heard back whether this is limited to Berea students or what the cost is if it is open to the public, but my guess is we can get in regardless…
UPDATE: The performance is going to be open to the public and what’s more…it’s free! I have a few people already asking to go watch him with me…it’s going to be a great show & I highly encourage going if you can.
UPDATE 2: Still open to public, but now I’ve gotten word now that the show is actually $10, so bring your wallet. Show is at the Phelps Stokes building and begins at 8pm. Still VERY MUCH worth it…
UPDATE 3: The Review (Photos, Video)
Saul Williams – Black Stacey
Saul Williams – Not in Our Name (Pledge of Resistance)
Saul Williams – Coded Language
Saul Williams – Elohim/Sha Clack Clack
Saul Williams – 1987
Saul Williams – Children of the Night
Saul Williams – Gypsy Girl
Saul Williams – Ohm
Saul Williams – Sermon on the Mount of Inevitable Progression of Saul to Saul
Saul Williams – Untimely Meditations