In the past decade, a resurgence of the poetry known as spoken word has emerged and has become an outlet for expression for many people. Poets are drawn to the energy and versatility in spoken word. It puts a dual emphasis on writing and performance, which makes it a public art.
Originally from Brooklyn, Yaya Pratt, 21, now resides in Jackson and has been writing poetry since an early age. "Poetry has been a very important part of my life; it keeps me grounded," says Pratt.
At 17, her friends tricked her into doing spoken word: "They told me I was going to be singing in a talent show, and when I showed up, I realized that I would be reading my poetry," Pratt explains.
Since then, she performs her art of spoken word at the Lyric Lounge Open Mic night at Santiago's, located at 101 South St. If you have ever been to an open-mic night, then you know that the talent is endless. These poets are focused on what they're saying and how they're saying it. They use the creative force inside of them, which incorporates movement and words, and they release it into the audience.
"What do I do when I'm labeled as a hater 'cause I comment on chicks rockin' Rocawear outfits … when chicks are concentratin' solely on their appearance but not the words comin' out of they mouth, and they disrespect their bodies and minds by believing everything that come out these brothas' mouths?"
This is an excerpt from one of Pratt's poems titled "What do I do?" She told me that this poem was written about the many different situations she has gotten herself into and how people said that she should handle them differently. She defends herself and her decisions and simply states the things she has observed.
She offers advice for the people who are interested in spoken word: "When you are up on stage, people can detect fabrication, so always be yourself and present your material as if you are telling a story," she says. "Don't worry about the critics when you are writing. When you feel passionate about something, write it down. Don't try to please anyone but yourself with your poetry."
For beginners, here are YaYa's quick suggestions to become a spoken word poet:
"Put yourself in a zone and write down the first thing that comes to your mind. Think details." Don't try to write what you think others want to hear. You put yourself in a whole different category when it's your words that are down on the paper.
"Write it down but don't worry about big words or trying to find a rhyme scheme. Leave it there and come back in two days." When it comes to writing, it's hard not to think about rhyme schemes but you must forget about this and keep writing. When you are not worrying about the format of your poetry or lyrics, it's easier to get the ink on the paper.
"Add some more if you wish. If you like what you see, then share it with your friends. If you feel like you have something, then you're ready for the stage." Some people find it helpful to practice their material before going on stage. It's all up to you and how you feel it. But when you are on stage, be yourself, express yourself through your words.
Other open-mic nights around Jackson include: Club Total on Tuesday nights, Fenian's Pub on Tuesday nights, The Gravity on Tuesday nights, Martin's Lounge on Wednesday nights, and The Warehouse on Wednesday and Sunday nights.
See http://jacksonfreepress.com/music/venues.php for numbers and directions to these locations.
For more information on Spoken Word poetry, you may contact Yaya at 601-454-0478 or e-mail her at [e-mail missing]
I can definitely attest to the talent that has graced the stage of Santiagos and more specifically, the talent of YaYa. She is one of those people you can't easily forget, and she keeps you wanting more of what she offers: her soul.
They don't come much more pure than Yaya. And I can say that apart from her being a good friend of mine.
She is a literary force to be reckoned with.
- c a webb
c a webb thanks a lot for your comments i truly appreciate that. You should know by now that you are one poet/entrepreneur/humanitarian/author that i really admire and look up to. i look forward to working with you again. you're the best.
thanks again yaya