Arizona Daily Wildcat Online
· Football
Live Culture
Police Beat
Online Crossword
Photo Spreads
The Wildcat
Letter to the Editor
Wildcat staff
Job Openings
Advertising Info
Student Media
Arizona Student Media info
UATV - student TV
KAMP - student radio
Daily Wildcat staff alumni

Saul Searching

Photo courtesy of UA Poetry Center
Poet, spoken word artist and activist Saul Williams plays the Rialto Theatre Wednesday. Funkamentals opens the show.
By Orli Ben-Dor
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Finding clarity in slams, jams and silence

First his voice booms, "Cancel the apocalypse!" With growing fervor and speaking savvy speed he continues, "Cartons of the Milky Way with pictures of a missing planet. In search of an American dream. This fool actually thinks he could drive his hummer to the moon blasting DMX off the soundtrack of a South Park cartoon."

The drums start up, then the hip-hop track powerfully evolves into a big sound with full lyrics, played and spoken with piercing conviction.

The track, "Penny for a Thought," is from Saul Williams' debut CD, Amethyst Rock Star. The speaker and creator, Williams, an internationally acclaimed poet, writer, actor and performance artist, fuses clever wordplay, political messages and hip-hop music to create an art form unlike any other.

Tucsonans can witness his talent first-hand on Wednesday at the Rialto Theatre when he shakes things up and makes some noise as part of the University of Arizona Poetry Center's Visiting Poets and Writers Reading Series. With a resume like Williams' ÷ that is, champion of the National Slam competition, critical acclaim for his acting in the feature film "Slam," and published and republished original writing, one would think Williams would exceed even the highest expectations.

Though the odds are on his side to dazzle and impress, Williams is anything but predictable. For a man who creates sound for a living and lives for sound, it's surprising how much he respects and advocates silence. According to Williams, the purpose of art is to raise consciousness. First, though, one must raise his own consciousness and, according to Williams, silence is key.

"You have to find time to sit quietly and find a way to sit with yourself and be with yourself and eventually you'll start to recognize clarity and be able to distinguish clarity from confusion and fear from intuition," Williams pondered.

Whether it takes turning off the DMX blasting from the hummer, or even fixing the leaky faucet that occupies every ounce of listening in order to reach that higher consciousness Williams preaches, this Wednesday the Rialto won't grant silence admission. The volume will be pumped up and the energy high. Words and music will mix just as the expected diverse audience will, too.

"We thought that by bringing Saul Williams we could both present the Poetry Center to the hip-hop culture in Tucson and present hip-hop poetry to the literary community that wouldn't otherwise have exposure to it," Frances Shoberg, literary director for the UA Poetry Center, said.

"We wanted to represent some more popular poetry culture in our reading series. We wanted to highlight the craft and the literary quality of spoken word," Shoberg continued.

The craft and quality of the spoken word lies not in technicalities like rhyme and meter for Williams. Instead, he reaches those necessary points of creation by first becoming inspired then appealing to his spiritual self.

"I'm inspired by people who are known and unknown. I'm inspired by moments. Greatly inspired by music, by art. Good films, good albums really inspire me. Moments, elevated moments of intimacy, family. By beauty itself," he said.

"I often feel the need to create or express a feeling or desire. My politics and my spiritual desire always find their ways into what I'm doing," Williams said.

No wonder Williams wants to cancel the apocalypse. He has too many inspirational people, things and moments in his life to have orchestrated it all already. Then again, with Williams, you just never know.

Something to say? Discuss this on WildChat
Or write a Letter to the Editor
Saul Searching
Clip this: four cheap dates for the discount-savvy
Happiness is a cold, plastic gun
A new place to shake your thang
Bar Wars
Food: Go into the Blu and take a big bite
Fox Theatre block party
Funkamentals: a group that makes hip hop educational
What's going on
Music: ĪSuper Furry' hung-over drummer on Yetis, hemorrhiods and Bush
Mogwai, not just a wallpaper band


Webmaster -
© Copyright 2003 - The Arizona Daily Wildcat - Arizona Student Media