Dakoury Godo-Solo Tackles Authenticity Through Spoken-Word Poetry

Equipped with only a microphone, Dakoury Godo-Solo ’17 stepped nervously onto the stage of Tang Theatre at the first Upper All-Class Meeting this past fall to perform an original poem. In order to calm his nerves, Godo-Solo began reciting Shakespeare under his breath, he recalled in an interview with The Phillipian.

“I really like performing and so whatever nerves I have are usually replaced by a sort of giddiness and joy when I perform. When I’m performing a poem, my whole body hums along to a song I just barely know. So while I was nervous in my earlier days, I kind of forgot those nerves as I performed more and more,” said Godo-Solo.

Godo-Solo was first introduced to poetry in the summer of 2011 when he participated in Andover Bread Loaf, a middle and high school program dedicated to writing. From there, Godo-Solo’s affinity for writing poetry grew. In eighth grade, he discovered a collection of videos of slam poetry, the art of reading poetry aloud, on YouTube. The videos inspired him to begin exploring poetry as a means of expression.

“What spoken-word poetry allowed me to do is to punctuate things in the way that I knew they should sound. I know how the words sound in my head, and when I say them, I can make them sound exactly how they sound in my head. But coming from a more performing background, it just felt natural to be yelling and punctuating things the way I wanted them to happen, because it was kind of what I was used to,” said Godo-Solo.

Godo-Solo said the main inspiration for his poems comes from his daily experiences. He always aims to share the most interesting aspects of himself truthfully, no matter how nerve-racking it may be to share these parts of himself.

“Authenticity scares me,” said Godo-Solo. “That’s what gets me nervous through every part of my poem. Because [the] truth and having my audience like me always seem to be two contradictory forces in my writing… You can kind of hide behind a written poem, you can submit it anonymously, you can do a lot of things to kind of make it less than what it is. But in a slam poem, you’re there, you’re like, ‘This is my whole heart, here. Please don’t trample on it,’ or ‘This is my art, these are the things that I think and the words that come out of my brain, please don’t hate me, dislike me or shame me for these things that I made.’”

During his Lower year, Godo-Solo co-founded Word, the spoken-word poetry club on campus, with Cam Mesinger ’16, Chaya Holch ’17 and Rosie Poku ’17. Word has allowed Godo-Solo to establish himself as a poet on campus and has provided him with additional inspiration by exposing him to other people’s work and poetry styles.

“Listening to other people’s poetry really gives me perspective on my own poetry and allows me to distance myself, because in my head, poetry sounds one way, but there are a lot of cool things that other people do that I kind of take note of, and I’m like, ‘I really wanna do this later.’ The accessibility of different poems and poets like Danez Smith, Anthony McPherson and Franny Choi, who came to campus last year: they’re [also] all very inspiring,” he said.

Godo-Solo said poetry has helped shape his identity at Andover. He uses it as a means of expressing his frustration or emotions.
“If I didn’t have poetry, I would be like a snowball of anger, and I’d just keep rolling down this hill until I was big and crushing everything in my life, which is not good… [Poetry] not only lets me escape, but lets me understand things that I don’t think I ever could have understood if I did not have poetry,” said Godo-Solo.

Editor’s Note: Chaya Holch is an Associate Commentary Editor for The Phillipian.