“So how does someone get started as a Spoken Word artist?” I asked Tanya Evanson, the new director of the Spoken Word program here. She explains that it’s not really a choice, but a calling. “Leonard Cohen said it best, ‘poetry is not an occupation. It’s a verdict’. I can’t just say, step one – buy a journal.” As director, Evanson designed the program for the 15 Spoken Word artists here to emphasize the “timelessness of art”. To do this she selected diverse faculty, each bringing different skills and a unique background to the program.
“There’s Jean-Pierre Makosso, a griot from the Congo – the original storyteller around the fire, but not just the storyteller. The musician, the dancer, the singer, the ceremony participant, the genealogist, and the librarian.” Then there’s D’Bi Young, a Jamaican dub poet. “She’s very much on the spiritual side,” Evanson says. The other two faculty are what Evanson refers to as more “futuristic.” Christian Bök is an experimental sound poet (he won the Griffin Prize for Eunoia). “He’s interested in vocalization and all the things you can do with that instrument - the mouth.” Alexis O’Hara‘s specialty is media and working with technology.