The Poet’s List: Saul Williams

Saul

SAUL WILLIAMS

Hometown: Newburgh, New York

Quote: A pupil of the seas reflective sight.” — Saul Williams

One Accolade: Nuyorican Poets Cafe’s 1996 Grand Slam Champion

Who I am and what I do seems to vary by mod, mood, and mode of expression. I write. I act. I perform. Most of the labels that are projected onto me are seldom how I would choose to refer to myself. Yet, regardless of how much I might dodge classification, the one label that I tote freely is that of being an artist. And it is the art of self expression that has heightened my experience on this planet and fueled my understanding of love, compassion, and humanity.

Poet.
I write poetry because it is the clearest and most direct expression of how I think. I take pride in being called a poet mostly because it feels like an ordination. I did not grow up thinking of myself as a poet, so it is an honor to be considered one. So far, I’ve written four books that fall under the category of poetry. For me, they chronicle my growth as an artist, friend, lover, father, son, and individual. My goal has never truly been to become an amazing poet, rather I have worked at becoming more expressive, thoughtful, and harmoniously balanced, and courageous enough to live my life as a poem. My writings simply chronicle my journey and vision. They are the residue of the work that I’m doing on myself.

Music.
I write music because I have found that I cannot rely on other artists, or the music industry to provide the release that I need from a days work, a night out, to inspire a mood, a movement, or simply explore the unsaid in ways that are important to me. I’ve sought to become self sufficient. In music I think of myself as an explorer participating in the construction of the soundscape of the new world that is being hatched out of our dreams, hope and visions of peace and harmony… that don’t necessarily mean my shit is soft though…

Performance.
Acting, my first love as an artist, has allowed me insight into the nature of humanity. The many roles I have played, especially in theater, exposed me to aspects of my own character before I even lived through enough experience to discover traits within myself. Through acting, I found an excuse to study everything from my own breathing habits, to the beats within a passage or poem, to the unexplored regions of my imagination. It taught me how to observe the distinction between someone who walks and leads with their head or chin versus someone who leads with their gut or groin. It grounded me in my voice and on stage and has helped me develop as a thinker and person

Through it all I would say that performance is my favorite medium as an artist. Yet, I have become very particular about the material I perform, thus, I create. Most of my training as an artist is in the field of acting which makes sense considering that all the other stuff often just feels like a role I’m playing.

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