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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Brave New Voices

I am addicted to poetry and Russell Simmons of Def Poetry Jam is my present addiction of choice.

Simmons has started a new movement - a renaissance of poetry - among urban kids who have more passion in their little fingers than most people have in their entire bodies.

He calls his movement "Brave New Voices," and that they are: bold, courageous, individual voices, longing to be heard above the monotonous cacophony of madness that has become the reality of our post-modern lives.

The stories they tell are filled with such honesty and authenticity and integrity, I scarce can catch my breath after listening to them.

Called, "Def Poetry Slams," Simmons has gathered some of the brightest and best teens from around the country into Regional Competitions, the best of which will compete at the national level.

The clip above, "Change," is from a young 19 year old man named B. Yung who gives the most lucid and yet passionate answer to the question often asked in suburbia, "Why are young, black men so angry?"

Another young woman named Jasmine, who lives with Sickle Cell Anemia, talks about living her life with this painful, debilitating disease. You can watch her poetry slam here.

A young, morbidly obese Caucasian man named Ben talks about his addiction to food and renders a heartbreaking connection to his father's abandonment when he was six years old. His poetry slam is "Storm Chase" which I hope you will watch here.

I've been watching the full program on HBO, which I had missed during the last weeks of Lent and Holy Week because . . . well, because it was the last weeks of Lent and Holy Week.

These snippets are, in my opinion, the best of the best, but that doesn't mean that the others are 'chopped liver," either - not by any stretch of the imagination.

You can catch the 28 minute documentary of "Brave New Voices" here.

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