Saul Williams delivers slam poetry performance

Ally Melling

said the shotgun to the head., last night in the Student Center Ballroom. Williams is known for his role in the movie Slam and has written three collections of poetry. STEPHANIE J. “>

Poet Saul Williams performs one of his poems from his book, said the shotgun to the head., last night in the Student Center Ballroom. Williams is known for his role in the movie Slam and has written three collections of poetry. STEPHANIE J.

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Last night, slam poet Saul Williams hopped off the Student Center Ballroom stage and abandoned his microphone before a hushed audience.

What rolled off his tongue next was more than a poetry recitation. It was a fast-paced performance that gained applause from the crowd that came out for the second installment of Culture Shock.

Williams is known from the television show “Girlfriends,” the award-winning film Slam and his contributions to the advancement of the spoken word.

Williams has also been impressing audiences across a variety of mediums.

As a recorded artist with a self-titled album, Williams commented on aspects of modern-day rap and R&B in the struggle for blacks to overcome racism.

“I’m only huffing and puffing because, oh God, there’s a big answer to that,” Williams said. “That’s what my last book is about. Here, I’ll say …”

Williams took a long pause.

“If you listen to it, half of the lyrics in rock songs are just as bad, if not worse,” he said. “It doesn’t perpetuate anything different than half of the reality TV shows on today. When it’s time to point fingers, I don’t point at hip-hop. I point at the government.”

It was Williams’ musical contributions that first caught the attention of senior psychology major Craig Stromberg.

“I first saw Saul open for Nine Inch Nails in Canada,” Stromberg said, referring to Williams’ work with NIN frontman Trent Reznor. “I was really impressed. It’s awesome that he could entertain a Nine Inch Nails crowd, because they’re such different things.”

After performing an excerpt from his book ,said the shotgun to the head., Williams touched upon politics once more when discussing the casualties of war.

“What we as a generation do to change things is important,” Williams said. “War is a heartless business. It is businessmen dealing in something that their hearts are not involved in. Truly, you have everything they wish they had, which is just a clean, clear slate.

“Essentially, I believe that every individual has something that they were intended to do. Find your balance between it all. If we all find our calling, then our generation will be very different than the one that precedes us.”

Williams also commented on the power of prayer and religion.

“I don’t stand opposed to prayer,” he said. “I’m a very prayerful dude. It’s the institutions involved in prayer. I’m not talking about the pages in the book but about the institutions that use religion to control. We are in the middle of a war, which is Christian versus Muslim, deny it all you want. Both sides are like, ‘God’s on our side, God’s on our side.’ Religion is being used to propagate more violence and slavery.”

Graduate student Johnny Carothers said he admired Williams’ commentary on controversial topics.

“The work that he does, whether books, albums or poetry is very intelligent without being boring,” Carothers said. “It’s relevant to current events but is also very universal. The things he says are often racially related but relevant to both sides.”

Williams said mindset is a powerful asset to today’s generation.

“Your perspective is where your power is,” Williams said before another piece. “If you believe that the powers that be have more power than the people, you’re wrong.”

Culture Shock will wrap up today with multicultural entertainment from noon to 5 p.m. in Risman Plaza.

Contact on-campus entertainment reporter Ally Melling at [email protected]