SLAM Poet Watsky Presents a Spark of Spontaneity

On Friday, spoken word artist George Watsky awed the Andover community with his own slam poetry on subjects ranging from natural disasters to speech impediments. He roamed around the stage, bringing his poems alive while delivering thought-provoking messages. A graduate of Emerson College, Watsky had a youthful perspective to which students could easily relate. Whether tackling a serious issue or making a joke, Watsky used a confident voice and emphatic gestures that kept the audience attune. Watsky started off the night with a poem in which he described the uncomfortable experience of throwing up on himself on a plane, turning it into something much more meaningful about how many reasons we have to feel lucky in our lives. He continued with “Narwhal Apocalypse,” a poem about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He spoke about how astounding the human brain is and about how simple it should be for us “flesh ferraris” to find a solution to problems like this. Among the most crowd-pleasing poems was “Drunk Text Message To God,” in which Watsky spoke about creating his own church with ideals that were playful and served the purpose of letting people enjoy themselves. Watsky personified the church as a character in various comedic and stimulating situations. The dramatically delivered line, “I’m not Jesus Christ, but I can turn water into Koolaid!” received many laughs. One of the poems required audience participation, so Watsky called Melina Prentakis ’11 up to the stage and pretended that he was a teacher and she was a six-year-old he was instructing. He taught her how to become a robot, with the intention of demonstrating the anxiety that a graduate has when the time comes for him to find a job or make a decision regarding the path of studies they want to continue. Watsky finished off the night with “S For Lisp,” a poem about how he felt when a stranger the other day told him he had a subtle lisp. In his mocking response to the stranger’s comment, he manifested his frustration and confusion regarding the fact that his speech set him apart from others. After the performance, Myracle McCoy ‘14 said, “It had a good mix of funny and serious pieces, and I would definitely go see him again.” Jessica Gammon ’14 said,“I thought it was a lot better than I expected. I usually don’t like poetry, but it was really interesting and funny.” In his writing process, Watsky focuses on what he finds intriguing and what he thinks will excite the audience. Watsky said, “With very few exceptions, what I write is just what I find compelling and what I’m thinking about.” This philosophy makes his work varied and spontaneous. “I used to churn out a poem in a day, and then it would be done,” said Watsky. “But then I started realizing that I didn’t want any of my poems to be worse than the ones I’d written before, so I have a much longer editing process.” First Watsky writes around ten pages of “free write,” just to jot down all the lines he feels are compelling without censoring himself. Then he edits the pages and picks the lines that have the best content, repeating the process until he has enough lines to fill a poem. He writes transition sentences to make the poem smooth. Watsky gave people passionate about writing some advice: “I don’t really have any wisdom. I just kind of have the same corny things to say, but I really believe them. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking you are not good enough to do something, because mostly it’s just hard work.”