“I am the most emulated man on this planet,” begins Prentice Powell in one of his spoken word poems called “Beautiful is Black.”
“You are the most emulated man on the planet,” he goes on, addressing his rapt audience. “Black men, we are the most emulated man on this planet.” Whoops and applause follow, and then he delivers the kicker: “So act like it.”
Powell, Oakland’s Poet of the Year and former Grand Slam Champion, will perform at Cal Poly’s Chumash Auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 7:30 p.m. for the series “Another Type of Groove: Spoken Word Poetry,” in honor of Black History Month.
Powell’s talents are not news to the spoken-word poetry scene. He has been featured on TV One’s Verses & Flow for three consecutive seasons and was voted “Best Poet” by the Oakland East Bay Express in 2010. According to the Verses & Flow website, Powell wrote and performed his first poem in 2003 and then placed 4th on the National Finals stage two months later. He was 2007 Spoken-Word Artist of the Year at the Black Music Awards and 2006 Oakland and San Francisco Grand Slam Champion. He has shared the stage with artists such as R&B singers Eric Roberson and Goapele, poet Amir Sulaiman, and Stevie Wonder. In the summer of 2013, Powell toured with the five-member poetry collective Fiveology as opening act for none other than Jill Scott.
Powell’s poems are full of energy and passion. His work makes an impassioned plea to his generation for accountability—particularly for other young African American men.
At the same time he challenges the way those same young men are seen by the world, with its racist assumptions and negative stereotypes. In “I Am The System,” which Powell performed on the Arsenio Hall show last December, he portrays popular culture as an automaton that sucks in the country’s youth and molds them to become consumers without ideas or values. Powell and Fiveology are the first spoken-word artists to be featured on Arsenio, and the first to play Radio City Music Hall. It seems the world is listening to his message.
Chumash Auditorium is located in the University Union in the Dean of Students office. For more information, contact Que Dang at firstname.lastname@example.org or 756-6256.