Sunday mornings driving to church usually overlaps with the last half of Krista Tippett’s NPR radio show “On Being” (formerly, “Speaking of Faith,” a much finer name in my humble opinion), and we usually listen. So it did and we did last Sunday when she was interviewing Sarah Kaye, a 23-year-old spoken word poet and founder of Project V.O.I.C.E. (Vocal Outreach Into Creative Expression). Honestly, I hadn’t heard her before but loved the force of her voice and words, a force that was all the stronger due to her humility. She talked about her work as not a set of answers but as a way of exploring and she invites her readers/listeners to join her in exploring.
Here’s an excerpt. I really resonated with what she says here because it speaks to the kind of writing I like to read. In fact, I may just have to borrow this defense for my own style in the book proposal for my current work in progress.
“I write a poem when there's something I cannot navigate without poetry. And in doing so, when I put that poem out into the world, what I'm saying is, hey, look at me trying to figure this thing out, which I haven't yet, but this is me trying. If you're trying to figure this out too, maybe this can help you or maybe you can help me. And then maybe together we can make something make more sense than it does right now. I think that that's what it means to be human is to volunteer your experience in an effort to say, hey, this is what I've got. What do you have over there? Can we make something work here?”
Of course you have to trust the person with whom you’re walking beside in the figuring-out process, but so you also have to trust the person, even more so, who is telling you what to do in bulleted check lists. There are books I pick up because I want to learn something specific, to find out how to do something; there are other books I pick up because I want to walk alongside someone for awhile who is walking a path I’m either interested in or find myself on, and we can then think together for those 250 pages or so.
She read her stunning poem “Hiroshima,” which ends with: “These aren't the last words I'll share, but just in case, I am trying my hardest to get it right this time around.”
Here is a link to a TED talk that Kaye gave and to which they referred often in the interview (I haven’t watched yet): Sarah Kaye: If I Should Have a Daughter...
You can listen to the entire interview with Sarah Kaye here: Sarah Kaye's Way with Words.