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Def Poetry
Story by: Kim Cambell

Def Poetry Jam is more than a show; it is an experience. Russell Simmons has outdone himself with the phenomenal Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. As someone who has never experienced being at a live poetry reading or has never even seen Def Poetry Jam on television, I found the show remarkably refreshing.

When entering the theatre, I was delighted to hear the familiar sounds of Lauryn Hill, Ludacris, and Michael Jackson. The D.J. Tendaji Lathan got the crowd’s attention with hit songs like Jay-Z’s “Give It To Me” and some old jams like Marvin Gaye’s “Lets Get It On”. The audience is captivated before a poet even step on stage but when the first poet does speak, they are hooked until the very last word on the stage is uttered. Each poet’s gesticulations and facial expressions seem to convey how different their personalities, their style, but most importantly, their messages are. Each poet tells stories of rage, happiness, pain and love. They expressed what they thought America, the world, and human nature was without sugarcoating anything. It was truth in a blatant, provocative and yet beautiful way.

Another positive aspect of Def Poetry Jam is the remarkable diversity between the poets. Chinese-American, Beau Sia holds nothing back. His edgy comedy keeps the crowd interested at all times. Black Ice, a young African-American man has a more serious tone but his words impact the crowd just as effectively. The lilting Caribbean accent of Stacey-Ann Chin emphasizes the powerful poetry she delivers to the audience. This was an interesting contrast to Lemon and Mayda Del Valle, both of whom used their poetry to glorify their Hispanic culture. Georgia Me use a voice as commanding as her full-figured frame to speak to the audience. This was quite the opposite from Suheir Hammad’s gentle and calming way of provoking controversy in the crowd’s minds. Steve Coleman manipulates his words with ease and evokes laughter and remarks of exclamation from the crowd simultaneously. His style is much different from the comical and humorous tactics of Poetri. The diversity of the poets performing improved the quality of the show and made their words real to every single person in the audience. The crowd showed their reverence towards the performers by giving them a standing ovation when it was completed.

When 16 year old Amanda Colon was asked what she liked so much about the show, she replied, “ It brought about issues that I think are important, and it brought it about in a way that common rap doesn’t.” This is a show that is recommended to every and anybody. It is something that everyone can relate to, understand, and appreciate. Def Poetry Jam is most definitely something you want to be Jamming to on Broadway.


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