Jared Paul resides and bicycles in Providence Rhode Island, where he organizes protests, practices journalism, and coaches the local youth poetry slam teams. His politics and community engagement are not only laudable, but also seem to contribute his long-term perspective on poetry.
It doesn’t seem to matter what the music is behind Jared Paul, he drops political verses. On his tune: “ABCs for Roger,” Paul borrows from the handed down alphabet songs to give a lecture on veganism, police, and colonialism through his poem a cappella. He rocks a hip-hop beat to express his straight-edge politics on “dead sober, and fronts what sounds like a punk band for some tunes.
On his myspace page he documents advancing to the final round of the Individual World Poetry Slam Finals in 2006 and 2007 and a handful of other slam poetry awards. But he also provides links to activist groups, and documents his protest/organizing schedule calling on folks to join anti-war demonstrations and to vote for Obama.
Jared Paul is a stunning performer – staring audiences in the eyes and calling for conscious responses to injustice. His talent at sharing complex ideas through verse should not be missed.
In the era of hip hop, it is impossible to lament that young people don’t like poetry. Humboldt is representative of a national upswing in interest in lyrical performance through rhyme, and at the center of our local scene have been poetry slam organizers Vanessa Pike-Vrtiak and Therese Keslin-Fitzmaurice, also known as A Reason to Listen.
Together they have organized and nurtured much of the local slam poetry scene. Their commitment to youth and justice are clear, whether they are on the stage with former Green-party presidential hopeful Jared Ball, or sharing poems at Humboldt State’s Take Back the Night.
Pike-Vrtiak and Keslin-Fitzmaurice are organizing a youth poetry spoken word showcase the Friday before Jared Paul’s performance. Join A Reason to Listen at the Accident Gallery on Friday for the youth showcase, to see the best of the region, and on Saturday to see Jared Paul.
(Times Standard, April 24, 2008)