We talk a lot on Eternal Graffiti about taking our craft serious about all the amazing things performance poets can do if given the right platform, there are very few people who are the physical embodiment of that idea like Sarah Kay.
When my hustle grows up it wants to be Sarah Kay.
I have wanted to post about Sarah for a while but I knew it would take a while to speak the full breath of this poet, to fully impress upon our audience the rare air in which she occupies.
Before I even get into the pulse of why I respect Sarah Kay, I want to illustrate through several examples her quiet domination, her ascendancy, her absolute gangster.
Exhibit A: I wanted to let her know before I Posted her to EG that I was going to put her up, in the event that she had anything specific going on that she wanted me to highlight to our readership. So I went over to her gorgeous website and sent her a note here is the auto response I received
Nepal tho!? Most poets that I know could not point out Nepal on a map, much less be there with their sleeves rolled up doing that work! I mean, have you been to Kathmandu with poems and such??? I am not sure what she was doing there this time but my guess is it was a continuation of the below work she started in 2012.
“In December 2012 I was the recipient of a U.S. Department of State Federal Assistance Award through the American Embassy in Nepal that allowed me to lead a multi-faceted spoken word poetry education platform at nine different schools in Kathmandu. I also had the opportunity to teach and coach a talented group of young poets in the area on how they could teach spoken word poetry in schools and continue to build a community around the art form. Since I left Nepal, these “Word Warriors” (as they call themselves) have been busy leading workshops and introducing more and more young people to spoken word poetry. They even organized a citywide poetry slam, with students from several different schools coming together to share their art. I am so proud of them and continue to be impressed with how much they have been able to build”
Exhibit B: A couple years ago I was to be in India (Mumbai) for a work related trip, being the Renaissance man I am I started to try to figure out a way to organize a poetry aspect to part of my trip. I figured none of my peers had made any big waves in India, so I thought I would be starting from scratch to create some type of workshop and do the foot work to get it approved though an organization in the city I would be visiting, WRONG – enter Sarah and her awesomeness again.
Look what I found out on the Google machine –
“I also had the opportunity to make a quick trip to Pune, where I performed and taught workshops on spoken word poetry with students at the Symbiosis International School as well as the Open Space Organization. It was my first time teaching spoken word poetry in India, and I was thrilled that the response was extremely positive.”
Click here to read more about Open Space Organization and the work Sarah did.
Exhibit C: So when Los and I were putting together our Strategic plan for 2015 we were researching conferences to attend that would help us network into some of the spaces that we are wanting to be in. One such conference was the Future of Storytelling conference in NYC – hyped about possibly attending FoST we started looking at past presenters and LO and behold one of the 2014 performers at this conference was none other than Sarah Kay.
I could go on, and normally when people say I could go on they actually cant they have already listed the significant stuff, but literally I have not talked about her one man show winning the “sold out crowd” award at United Solo the world’s largest one man show festival.
I have not talked about Project V.O.I.C.E. I have not talked about her work with the TEDx organization.
I did not even touch on all of the things she has done behind the camera with her documentaries, I literally could go on.
As the pop culture saying goes, there are levels to this shit. Sarah is one of the poets at the top setting the bar.
But if you lean in I will tell you the secret sauce, the way she has navigated from villages in Nepal to board rooms in New York, from TEDx stages to tearing apart the bowery poetry club on a random weekday to all of the amazing things I listed and more….
Are you listening…?
She is humble, and from all the accounts from the people who know her best she is just an incredible person. She has done all she has done without beating her chest, I know poets whose egos eclipse the moon if they grand slam at finals. Sarah is not one of these people.
I imagine her heart is elastic, that it just continues to expand to let more good in. At this point it is most likely the size of New York. I imagine, even when this life stretches her out like a Tokyo highway, she is still present. With her sleeves rolled up, ready to connect, to work, to do good in this world.
Some of our peers like to make themselves into skyscrapers, when they become rubble, as they always do, Sarah will still be standing.
Because the genuine ones always remain.
Now on to the poem, there were too many good ones to choose from so I posted one that really showcases what I feel is one of her best qualities on the microphone, which is just honesty, she does not shout the poem at you, she just sits in the pocket. A beautiful pocket made of silk, and simply speaks to you. I think this is one of the reason people really resonate with Sarah
Do yourself a favor and really connect with what Sarah is doing and while you are at it pick up a copy of her book: No matter the Wreckage from Write Bloody Press.