In his greatly anticipated new full-length book of poetry, US (a.), the first since The Dead Emcee Scrolls in 2006, “the poet laureate of hip-hop” (CNN) Saul Williams presents his ideas, observations, realizations, dreams, and questions about the state of America, the American psyche, and what it means to be American.
Tickets for the event with Saul Williams will be available at the door at Town Hall Seattle beginning at 6pm this evening. The cost is $10 each.
After four years abroad, Williams returned to the United States and found his head twirling with thoughts on race, class, gender, finance, freedom, guns, cooking shows, dog shows, superheroes, not-so-super politicians—everything that makes up our country. US (a.) is a collection of poems that embodies the spirit of a culture that questions sentiments and realities, embracing a cross-section of pop culture, hip-hop, and the greater world politic of the moment. Williams explores what social media may only hint at—times and realities have changed; there is a connect and a disconnect. We are wirelessly connected to a past and path to which we are chained. Saul Williams stops and frisks the moment, makes it empty its pockets, and chronicles what’s inside.
Saul Williams became an open mic poet in 1995 and won the title of Nuyorican Poets Cafe’s Grand Slam Champion in 1996. The documentary film SlamNation follows Williams and the other members of the 1996 Nuyorican Poets Slam team as they compete in the 1996 National Poetry Slam held in Portland, Oregon. The following year, Williams landed the lead role in the 1998 feature film Slam where he was featured as both a writer and actor. The film won both the Sundance Festival Grand Jury Prize and the Cannes Camera D’Or.
As a writer, Williams has been published in the New York Times, Esquire, Bomb Magazine, and African Voices, as well as releasing four collections of poetry. As a poet and musician, Williams has toured and lectured across the world, appearing at many universities and colleges. In his interview in the book Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, Williams explained why he creates within so many genres: “It’s not that I balance those arts out, all the different arts balance me out. So, that there is a certain type of emotion that is more easily accessible through music than poetry… some things are meant to be written, some are meant to be sung, some things are meant to be hummed, some things are made to be yelled, and so that’s just how life works.”
Around 1998, Williams broke into the music scene. He has performed with such artists as Nas, The Fugees, Christian Alvarez, Blackalicious, Erykah Badu, KRS-One, Zack De La Rocha, De La Soul, and DJ Krust, as well as poets Allen Ginsberg and Sonia Sanchez. In September 2004, he released his self-titled album to much acclaim.
Williams’ latest album, Volcanic Sunlight, was released on November 11, 2011. Williams showcased the album at London’s Hoxton Bar Kitchen. Livemusic interviewed Williams on the evening and made a subsequent film, produced by artist Alex Templeton-Ward. When Williams was asked what the point of poetry was, he said: “I’m making this up, I have no idea but here we go. I think that it would be to express, to share, to relieve, to explore. For me, poetry offers some what of a cathartic experience. I am able to move through emotions and emotional experience particularly, you know, break-ups, difficulties in all the things that I may face, whether that is with an industry or a loved one or whomever, there needs to be an infiltration process, like you have a window open over there. That is the purpose of poetry: it is the window that opens, that allows some air in, some other insight, some other possibility so we can explore all that we feel, all that we think but with the space to see more than what we know, because there is so much more than we know. If I didn’t open myself to the possibilities of the unknown, then I would be lost.”
Tey (Today) (2013, actor) – Winner of the Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor
Slam (1998, writer and actor) – Winner of the Golden Camera Award at Cannes Film Festival, the Audience Choice Award at St. Louis International Film Festival, and the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival
US (a.) (September 2015)
Chorus: A Literary Mixtape (2012)
The Dead Emcee Scrolls: The Lost Teachings of Hip Hop (2006)
Said the Shotgun to the Head (2003)
Volcanic Sunlight (2011)
The Inevitable Rise of Niggy Tardust (2008)
Saul Williams (2004)
Saul Williams’s homepage
SF Weekly: Saul Williams Talks Martyr Loser King, Hackers, and Drones
Saul Williams – Readings from S/HE
Def Poetry Jam – Saul Williams (Coded Language)
Saul Williams: Dreadlocked Dervish of Words