Below is an interview I did last year with the Urban Poet.
Sean King is a long time fixture in the Sacramento poetry scene. When I first met Sean King it was when Jamaica House, I think it was Jamaica House, maybe it was Sweet Fingers at the time, anyway what ever it was called, it was in transition to becoming Queen Sheba so Mahogany temporarily moved operations to the Sol Collective on Del Paso, before it burned down and moved. At that time there was a round table workshop for poets an hour before the show. How it worked was one of the more seasoned poets would assign an assignment, everyone that did the assignment would read their poem at the next meeting. I still remember Sean King’s assignment a poem with 5 lines and 5 syllables on each line.
What is the role of poetry in our community?
The role of poetry in our community is to teach, to spread truth, to bridge the gaps between people of different backgrounds and beliefs, to give people a reason to believe, to tell the news, to pass on traditions, and most importantly to motivate.
Where did u get your start as a spoken word artist?
I got my start doing spoken word at the Straight Out Scribes Saturday afternoon poetry series at Carol’s Books. At the time I had been writing for about 4 years, but it was there that I found the venue and courage to share my work publicly.
How have writing and performing poetry changed your life?
More than anything, it’s given me the opportunity to meet a lot of talented artist who want to make the world better. It’s also helped me grow. For the longest time I was terrified to speak in public. By forcing myself to share my poetry, I’ve become a little less terrified at the thought of standing in front of people. That being said, I still haven’t become comfortable and I’ve been sharing for about 15 years.
Does poetry have power; if so what kind is it?
Yes. Poetry has the power to heal people, both the poet and the people who share similar experiences. It has the power to change minds or open up perspective. It has the power to make people smile and feel good. Poetry has power. It started with the word.
What inspires you?
I would say I’m inspired by everything I come in contact with. People, the news, work, my family, other poets. Man, I’m inspired by life.
What pisses you off?
I get pissed off by people trying to take advantage of me. By people who don’t care about the community, the art, the people. People who look at poetry as just another opportunity to make some money. People like that are like leeches to me.
Who is your favorite poet?
I love a ton of poets; both people living and poets from a different time, but my favorite is Kahlil Gibran; I love the fact that he’s able to mix the beauty of poetry with the power of truth. The fact that he mastered the art of being thought provoking and elegant.. and he wrote about a lot of different topics, ranging from spirituality, to love, to children, to marriage..
What is your favorite poem?
My favorite poem/prose is “A Poet’s Death is His Life” by Kahlil Gibran. In short, it captures the essence of how lonely the life of a poet can be, of how it might be 100s of years after a poet has passed away that the people really appreciate his work. I don’t know, it just spoke to me.
Being a veteran how do you conquer writers block?
I usually get past writers block by going and listening to or reading the work of other poets. Some other techniques I use is to read the news, or pick up a book to read. I also like to go back and read my old work which also inspires me because as you grow your viewpoints change. It forces you to sit down and write a new piece that’s connected to your old work, but from a different perspective.
Don’t tell anybody, but I also take trips down to the Rite-Aid or Food Source or some other store in the hood and people watch. There’s so much life being lived by people just getting by; some funny, some ignorant, and some very humbling. All of it sure to kick start your mind.
What advice would u give new poets?
My advice to new poets? Be patient; develop your writing, fall in love with your craft, as much as possible try to find a balance between the people pumping up your ego and your own humility. Write… Write… Write truthfully. Read and study poetry. Don’t worry about writing master pieces every time you write. I would also recommend don’t start performing until you feel ready. It’s easy to lose sight of who you are when you get caught up on sharing your work instead of writing your soul. Some people master the balance; other’s become stagnant as writers because that applause makes them think they’ve mastered their craft.
Be sure to check out the Urban Poet site at http://theurbanpoet.org/