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Like a trip to my favorite restaurant, I’m hardly ever disappointed when I find myself at the fountain in Dupont Circle. It’s one of my free-day pleasures. Honestly, it seems like the areas’ most creative individuals take turns sharing their talents and sometimes, weirdness (I’m not judging, I’m just saying).
So last month, I saw an invite for outdoor poetry that had open mic (Hey! I used to perform spoken word so I’m always attracted to it). And so… I said to myself “Self, YOU like poetry. Self, YOU like being outdoors.” So you see it was an easy decision right? And looking back, it was also a wise one because I was able to meet a few members of DC’s Guerilla Poets.
Almost started by happenstance in 2003, the group (which has changed both its focus and members through the years) still performs in the DMV area, and if you ask them, even us ex- and non-poets are ‘guerilla poets’ in our own right.
In addition to grabbing a few shots while out that day, I was able to ask one of the early members, Shahid Buttar (Follow Him), a few questions about the groups. I found its purpose and message to be super interesting. I hope you do.
What is the purpose of the Guerilla Poets? I think there are as many purposes of the group as there are poets. For some of us, the poetry insurgency may simply be a creative outlet, or a conscious community of poets with whom to share experiences and inspiration. Personally, I conceived of the group as a core of politicized artists capable of projecting a political sensibility into public space. We’ve also done a lot of performances at explicitly political events, such as the Operation Cease-Fire concert that in 2005 (or maybe 2006) drew tens of thousands of war resisters to the National Mall. It was probably our largest show ever, but we’ve also performed in dozens (if not hundreds) of smaller rallies & marches, and also hosted workshops for young and emerging artists to help develop their creative political voices.
Messages are important and long lasting. Each poet probably has his/her own message, so what is yours? This is no time to sit back and observe the world fall to hell in a hand basket. We either stand together, or hang alone. And we, the people of the United States, enjoy a particular privilege to effectuate global change, if only by helping encourage our neighbors to think critically about our nation’s values, actions, role in the world, and enduring legacy. Finally, communities of creative people can move mountains if we remember to keep it funky, open-armed and lead with our hearts first.
I enjoyed my time out that day. I didn’t even do them justice, but you can by visiting their FACEBOOK page and then getting out to see them in action. You may even be able to ‘rock’ the mic’ at one of their open mic sessions. Let your inner guerrilla out, you’ll love it! Passionate poetry attracts me and has changed many lives. I am one of those lives.
Today, I’m thankful for the opportunity to stand with others, and for friends who are willing to stand with me. God bless.