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Def Poetry jammers rhyme grades with dreams

Ishle Park and Taylor Mali from Broadway’s Def Poetry Jam spoke the word last Wednesday in Kendall Hall. Park and Mali recited some of their famous poetry in addition to letting the College’s own students showcase their talent.

“An Evening of Spoken Word” opened with Mali’s poetry. Mali performed six poems. The crowd responded especially to “Voice of America Voiceover,” which Mali dedicated to a man who said that more people would hear his voice on radio commercials and movie trailers than hear him recite a single word of his own poetry.

In “Voice of America Voiceover” Mali said:

I’m not a poet, but I play one on Def Poetry Jam.

I’m not a dead white male, but two out of three ain’t bad.

So on those days when you’re not feeling fresh, come to Jamaica.

Because on the road of life there are passengers

and there are poets like me.

Can you hear me now?

Don’t the words confuse you?

Don’t let the lies fill you.

Cause sticks and stones can break your bones,

but words can fucking kill you.

Since it related to College life, students appreciated Mali’s poem “What Teachers Make.”

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor

and an A- feel like a slap in the face.

How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

Poet Ishle Park performed six of her well-known works including “Cheju do Dreams,” which is about her childhood on an island off the coast of South Korea.

This smell was my shame growing up, my secret;

the reason I took three showers a day and got dropped off

a block away from school, so the Whitestone kids would never know

that my father drove the puke green van that smelled like fish,

so they would never wrinkle their nose at me

and say that I smelled like fish, which in 2nd grade

meant you smelled like pussy. stank pussy.

Park also performed a poem called “Pussy,” which she will soon be performing on HBO. In this poem, Park talks about how she was on a train feeling excited.

Why is my pussy feeling like this?

Why is it pounding and pulsing so strong

I have to sit squeezing my thighs together silently on this F train,

legs crossed, calmly writing, sublime Asian girl with chaos


between her legs, like some drum, some strange heartbeat,

some pounding echo through dark caverns that is.

“The evening of spoken word was a good change from the normal concerts and comedians that normally take the stage of Kendall Hall,” Meredith Free, freshman secondary education history major, said. “The show was a good opportunity for people who have never experienced something like this before.”

Mali and Park can be seen on HBO starting April 4, in “Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry Jam.” The two may also be seen live in New York in Russell Simmons’ presents Def Poetry Jam” on Broadway.

During intermission three students recited some of their own poetry. Sara Jewell, senior biology major, performed a poem called “He Asked.” The poem was inspired by three interesting pick-up lines she received. Ed Chamberlain, senior English major, performed his poems “Till Death Do You Part” and “Dogwood Peddles.” Eric Menda, freshman journalism major, recited his poems “First Sip” and “Acoustic Companion.”


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