Sunday, July 10, 2011

Outward and Outspoken!

There is just something about motivational speakers and spoken poetry that makes me want to take over the world. I remember sitting in the great big gym hall in my first high school (I had two) with the whole school listening to a motivational speaker. My first thought was - Hold on, you can do this for a living?! And my second thought as the man started to speak was, wow...

Although I don't remember his name or even what he spoke about, I still remember the feeling of lightness that his speech evoked. Soon afterwards, the school formed a slam poetry group of which I was a part of. I had written before but it was all private poetry, nothing I had ever spoken out loud or shared and the slam poetry sessions showed me how words come alive in a different way when they are shared vocally.

In this post, I want to talk about three different components that have recently made a big impact in my life. Nothing exactly world-changing, but certainly humbling and motivating. The first is about one of my favourite authors, Bryce Courtenay, the second about a young woman called Sarah Kay and the third about Russell Simmons "Brave New Voices" and three people who had brilliant poems.

Bryce Courtenay has developed into more of a storyteller than an author for me and I noticed it this week after watching an great interview in which he shared his home and his lovely office space (I want, I want!) as well as his journey with writing. He is a South African bred man and I think, with Africa, he has taken a sense of the typical and culturally strong role of being a Storyteller. He acts out his stories in interviews and I find that that is such an admirable trait to have. The fact that he is a published writer is just a bonus for him I think. Here is the interview for you to have a look at.

Sarah Kay was unknown to me at the beginning of this week and through Facebook, I got hold of this video of one of her talks. The first bit is the most important to me because of the slam poem she performs. It's called If I should Have a Daughter. Here is the link and you can see on the right hand side of the sight, if you go to the little tab, you can get the transcript of the entire video. It is worth watching it through to the end.

Now, last but not least, Russelll Simmons has created the wonderful Brave New Voices which allows angry and passionate youth to share their voice with the world. Three of the poets that have caught my ear (ha ha eye) are:

  • B Yung with his poem Change (listen to every word and you soon find out that he is not just another angry kid and that he actually is incredibly well educated) Its about fear and hate and not letting your past hinder your future. 
  • Alysia with her poem That Girl (incredibly powerful!) Its about not letting the love for someone that cannot comprehend returning it, allow you to be used and abused and about demanding respect.
  • Jasmin Baily with her poem Sickle Cell (Sickle Cell is a blood disease that is prominent in African Americans) Is about how no one knows what its like to be you until they live with what you are going through and nobody cares because you are the one that has to live with whatever pain you have. 
All three (or should I say five) of those people, remind me why the English Language is so empowering and how freedom of speech is crucial in education. My mother strongly believes and I agree with her that education is the most important tool in the entire world because you can be sick (like Alysia) or angry (like Jasmin and B) but you can still be educated. You can come from nothing, but you can build your life up the way you want it and in your own time. And you can create stories from the shadows of your mind and still educate people about life.

The world is an amazing place, we just need to learn to share it with everyone. But vocal poetry and speeches show us how powerful words can be. They can either lift you up and build your spirits, or they can break you down and annihilate any hope that you might of had.

This next week, when you go about your day and when you are most saturated with your own life, think about what you say and how you say it. When you write, it can be deleted or thrown away but when you speak, the words are out there mingling in the air and you can never get them back. It's a cliche saying but that is just how important it is to watch what you say to people because words return to you in the darkest or even lightest hour and can do more damage then any gun or knife or punch. 

Let your words be as beautiful as the world around you. let your mouth be sweet and your thoughts be clean. Positive thinking results in positive living. There is enough hate in this world. 

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