Full Title: “‘Artists are resilient’: Spoken word poetry functions as both creative outlet and source of support for artists of color in gentrifying Seattle (via Seattle Times)”
The room was already electric.
By the time Ebo Barton was preparing to walk on stage at the Northwest African American Museum’s Alchemy Spoken Word event in July, a handful of Seattle-based poets had taken the stage and asked the audience about their fears, their insecurities, their triumphs, then shared their own, wrapped in rhythm, rhyme and emotion. They spoke of shared pain.
As the crowd cheered Barton on, the poet relished in the feeling of shared vulnerability and thanked the audience for being there. For taking up space, for listening, and for allowing them to close out the night. Then they smiled, leaned back, took a breath, and began.
“It’s like they’re poking holes in our streets to see if we’ll leak from them,” Barton, who prefers the pronoun they, says. “Every time they build, they never give us a minute to mourn our holy open graves. They put up tombstones we can’t afford to look at.”
Barton’s spoken word poem is about stolen culture, stolen space and hypocrisy. It’s about Seattle’s rising gentrification problem. It’s about feeling lost when you’re meant to be at home.