On Thursday night, spoken word artist G. Yamazawa came to the College to perform a poetry recital. At only 22 years old, G. Yamazawa is already one of the top spoken word artists in the country and has been featured at venues and universities across the nation. The recital took place in Baxter Hall. Partly due to the comfortable Paresky atmosphere, but mostly due to his upbeat personality, Yamazawa immediately established an intimate connection with his audience. The opening act, in which Yamazawa introduced himself to the audience, set up the humorous, light-hearted tone that would color the rest of the night. Yamazawa dressed, spoke and acted youthfully, seeming to share the energetic mindset of a college student, which allowed him to bond to his audience through a simulation of friendship.
The performance was a charming mixture of the playful and the meaningful. Most of the poems revolved around Yamazawa’s cultural identity and its impact of his identity on his life, both in his past and present. The musicality of the poems themselves combined with the strength of Yamazawa’s on-stage persona to create a powerful effect on all listeners.
Yamazawa managed to communicate the problems of being part of a minority race without sounding self-righteous – he successfully vocalized the nature of his experiences without condemning people. In between poems, Yamazawa would explain to the audience some of the humor behind the larger problems articulated in his poems. Because the performance showcased a continuous and poignant contrast between the humorous and the meaningful, it provided high entertainment value for a variety of different types of audience members. In the words of Yamazawa himself, “I’m joking with you about psychopathic children and then I hit you with the cultural identity.”
Listening to Yamazawa recite was an enjoyable and unusual experience. Professional spoken word performances are not common at the College, so it was interesting to witness the process of its execution. Yamazawa demonstrated why poetry is best when communicated orally – experiencing the rhythm and flow of the spoken poems could in no way equal the experience of reading the same poems on paper. Yamazawa also demonstrated how modern poetry could be engaging for all types of people. By making poetry enjoyable, Yamazawa showed that even the most esoteric of art forms can be made mainstream and enjoyable for all.
The choice of location for the event was ideal, putting the audience into a state of ease that complemented the cheerful nature of Yamazawa’s performance perfectly. Furthermore, the choice of location enabled a more widespread interaction amongst students. Regardless of whether the students in Paresky had actually planned to watch the recital, they were able to witness it simply because
they had chosen to eat dinner there that night. Artistic events that lend way to natural interaction are the ones that manage to spread the influence of the arts the most. Hopefully, this medium will continue to appear frequently in the future, both within and outside of the College.