Tuesday, August 7, 2012

AJ Ranks Vol. 6: Best of Def Poetry

The Def’est Poetry

I have watched every episode of HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry and let me tell you, there are many, many talented people making poetry out there. There are so many good Def Poetry videos that it was hard to cut it down to ten, but here they are, the best videos (in my opinion) from Def Poetry.

10. Jason Carney – Southern Heritage

This poem is about Jason Carney’s past and his future. He speaks about his relationship with his grandmother and then brings it around to the relationship with his daughter. I always get goose bumps when he speeds up his speech; it’s as if you can feel his words.

9. Daniel Beaty – Knock Knock

This poem is about a boy whose father leaves his family, and how he grows up to become a man. The build up to the last line is so good it makes me want to stand up and scream it with him.

8. Mark Gonzales – As With Most Men

Mark Gonzales brings to light the misogyny and objectification of women in western pop culture. The poem makes you think about what kind of man you really want to be.

7. Eamon Mahone and Paul Graham - Black Irish

This is absolutely one of my favorites, the reason it ranks so low is the quality of video. (I looked everywhere and couldn’t find one with better quality.) The poem draws parallels between the ways that they both were raised. Not only that but the presentation was remarkable, when they hit the lines together and with such power, it gets me every time.

6. Steve Coleman – I Wanna Hear a Poem

You’ll have to skip to the 1:42 mark if you want to skip Mos Def telling you about what Def Poetry is. When you finally get to hear Steve Coleman you will like it. He basically lays out what kind of poem he wants to hear. “I just want to hear a poem.” I hear that, man.

5. Carlos Andrés Gómez - What's Genocide

You may not know exactly what he is talking about but odds are you have heard of or been around a situation resembling or just as bad as the ones he talks about in this poem. That’s what’s makes this so sad is that you know it’s true.

4. Shihan –Say What?

Shihan is one of my favorite Def Poetry acts. He always has a message and his word play always makes you think. To this day I can’t get the line “So I use these real eyes, to realizes the real lies...” out of my head.

3. Gemini – Penny for Your Thoughts

“While they’re trying to get deeply imbedded in the fine fibers of your bed sheets, I’m trying to find and define the fibers with which your mind speaks.” #Boom

2. Taylor Mali – What Teachers Make

This video has been sent around the staff at the school I work at so many times, I can only imagine how pumped up it makes teachers feel. I could see a teacher watching this before a class getting excited and ready for the class only to be brought back down to earth when the idiot kids walk and lower all expectations.

1. Suheir Hammad - First Writing Since

Suheir Hammad speaks about the racism problems in the states after 9/11. She speaks so eloquently and passionately about her subject. It is amazing to imagine what art and beauty can come from the struggles her family had to face.

Here are a few extra videos I didn’t add to the list because I already had a better one from the poet.

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