Last night I attended my first event of the semester: a slam poetry reading by Javon Johnson, Ph.D ! I have never been necessarily interested in poetry until last year or so, but Javon blew me away. Last night really opened my eyes and served as the perfect reminder that poetry is much more than flowery, superfluous words on a page written by someone hundreds of years ago. His works were personal, moving, empowering and relatable not merely because of the words he chose, but because of the performance itself: how every syllable, every constant and every vowel left his mouth. Unfortunately I had to leave the event a little early, so I only heard a couple of pieces, but either way I’m glad I was able to go.
Since we have just finished reading a selection of poems in my African American Literature course, my professor actually arranged for Johnson to speak with my class this morning! When I asked Johnson what his biggest inspiration for his poetry, he had such an insightful response.
He said, “Well, everything…But I really only write love poems.”
When one hears the words “love poems”, he or she tends to assume boy/girl relationship-esque love poems. But Javon went on to explain that, although he definitely enjoys and finds a lot of meaning within those specific types of poems, that all of his poems are love poems because they are about everything he loves, whether it’s a person, a place, a thing etc. He writes about the people he loves, his “love for humanity.” He even mentioned that through his writing, sometimes he hopes to create a more lovable word for those around him. It was not the answer I was expecting when I raised the question, but nonetheless was a perfectly beautiful response and made me truly think about the emotions and thoughts that make their way into an artist’s work.
This was one of the many interesting topics Javon spoke about during my class period. Because I was so interested in his thoughts on writing, what to write about, how to interpret a poet’s piece, I decided to take a little step outside my comfort zone and attend his poetry workshop scheduled later in the day. As I said, although poetry was never a true passion or interest of mine, I enjoyed the workshop and felt grateful to have had such a great opportunity to expand my writing horizons right on campus!
Now I’m off to do some laundry and finish some homework. Tonight is another production night for the Aquinas (our first issue comes out tomorrow!), and as the new co-Arts and Life section editor, there will be much to do. 🙂
Hope everyone has a lovely rest of the week!