Best of What's Next: Poetry Revival Comes Alive
HOMETOWNS: Long Beach, Calif.; Portland; Seattle
BOOKS: Over the Anvil We Stretch (Anis Mojgani), Live for a Living (Buddy Wakefield), Scandalabra (Derrick Brown)
FOR FANS OF: A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Saul Williams
Spoken-word poets Anis Mojgani, Buddy Wakefield and Derrick Brown don’t consider themselves entertainers. But since 2007, the trio has traveled across the U.S. with a rotating cast of performers and musicians in tow for what they call “poetry revivals,” each time under a new moniker—Junkyard Ghost Revival, Elephant Engine High Dive Revival and the current Night Kite Revival.
“The whole point of it is [to create] a mixture of things to sort of arm people’s hearts, to uplift them, to inspire them and show them that they are able to go out and do things that perhaps they didn’t think that they could,” Mojgani says. On stage, when the two-time National Poetry Slam Champion isn’t performing his own work, he creates “weird little moments” by playing ukulele and thumbing a toy piano, belting out gospel-blues renditions of DMX songs and staging pickup-line contests while dressed as a hot dog.
Brown, president of Write Bloody Publishing (the independent press that has published each poet’s work), and Wakefield, a two-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, also contribute to the skits, raps and musical interludes that glue the poems together. “I think the reality is that we are all in this together,” Wakefield says of life. “… Why not learn about it together, why not have fun in it together, why not talk about it together?”
WHAT’S NEXT: After the Night Kite Revival tour wraps up in November, Mojgani hopes to devote several months to planning future tours, to which he’d love to add more musicians and poets. “I think that the revival can get to the next level by us having the time to really, really shape the shows.”