5 Of Button Poetry's Must-See Spoken-Word Performances

5 Of Button Poetry's Must-See Spoken-Word Performances

"And she will not keep your secret, you cannot make fire feel afraid."

Recently, as I was scrolling through various social media outlets, a single video seemed to populate my feed. It was a form of art in which I had no prior exposure: slam poetry. This poem, in particular, was written by Neil Hilsborn, a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. The poem titled "OCD" was originally written as, what Neil described in his TED talk, "a snarky, fake, angry breakup letter to a woman" who left him. Through the editing process, the jokes diminished and eventually, the poem came to be what it is today.

After watching this video through social media, I searched on Youtube to watch it again (and again). The video was uploaded by a user called Button Poetry, which I discovered is a Minnesota-based organization that supports performance poetry through production and distribution methods. Their Youtube channel contains many spoken-word videos. After exploring these various performances, I fell absolutely in love with this form of art.

Not only is the poetry itself breathtaking--the word flow, word choice, etc.--but the emotions conveyed throughout the reading by the authors adds a raw and genuine feeling to the pieces. The authors are able to project their own sentiments during the performance. You're able to hear the pain in their voice during a heart-wrenching piece about breakups. You have the ability to observe the shaking and trembling of the girl reading the poem about PTSD. You can see the pain in the eyes of the ones struggling with mental illness. This type of poetry is incredibly powerful; I honestly develop goosebumps after almost every video.

Below is a collection of my favorite videos I have discovered thus far, including brief descriptions of the poems, as well as my favorite quotes. If you're interested in poetry, or even if you aren't, I highly suggest watching at least one of these videos. Enjoy!

1. "OCD" - Neil Hilsborn

I briefly described this poem previously. After describing falling in love with a girl, Neil illustrates the distance she started putting between the two of them, eventually telling him their love was a mistake. It's an incredibly heartbreaking and moving poem that concludes with my favorite quote: "I want her back so bad, I leave the door unlocked. I leave the lights on."

2. "14 Lines From Love Letters or Suicide Notes" - Doc Luben

In this poem, Doc takes a collection of quotes from either love letters or suicide notes, reading them to the audience to decipher the source of the quote: a love letter or a suicide note. I am entirely uncertain of the source of every single quote included by Doc, including my favorite, "I always imagined this would happen without warning, like suddenly on an ocean cliffside, but this is the kind of thing where waiting for the time to be right would just mean waiting forever."

3. "Trigger Warning" - Karina Stow

With the "triggered" joke becoming more and more prevalent in today's society, this video is important to show triggers are a real problem for people struggling with PTSD. The poet, we can infer, was emotionally and sexually abused in her relationship. "Loving someone is handing them a map of your weak spots." After sending her ex-boyfriend to jail, she developed severe paranoia caused by PTSD, which resulted in her becoming unnerved by various objects, people, and environments that once made her feel safe. Becoming triggered is a very, very real reaction, and this poem can perfectly illustrate it.

4. "To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Daughter" - Jesse Parent

The title practically speaks for itself, in this case. A father sends a message to the boy that may one day date his daughter. Both hilarious and thought-provoking, it's a must-listen. "Consider my genes a mark of Cain, you will suffer seven times whatever you do to her. And she will not keep your secret, you can't make fire feel afraid."

5. "How We Have Learned To Love" - Gage Wallace

Love is changing within the new phase of technology. Suddenly, we are willing to say and do anything over texts or social media. We are disconnecting ourselves from real-life interactions and learning to love from a distance. "I never call her, we just send texts. I'm forgetting the sound of her voice, the taste and pressing calm of her lips. I want to leave her when she 'lol's'. Every time. But this is how we have learned to love."

Cover Image Credit: Wordupnaija

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To the guy that shot my brother...


To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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If 'Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse' Doesn't Win At The Oscars, It Would Be An Unjustified Loss

"Spider-Verse" has changed the way we will view superhero movies and has paved the way for change.


The Oscars are quickly approaching with about a month left until we see who takes home an Academy Award, and one of the most competitive areas this year will be in the category for Best Animated Feature.

The Oscar for this field will ultimately have five nominees, "Isle of Dogs" and "Incredibles 2" being the anticipated frontrunners due to both of the outstanding critical acclaim both films have received and the overwhelmingly high box office numbers that both films brought in.

"Incredibles 2" seems to have a really great shot as it won the category back in 2004 with its first film, along with the amazing approval ratings and criticism the sequel received following its release in June. And although all nominations are worthy of their rightful recognition, if "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" does not win at this year's Academy Awards, I think we can all agree that it would be a completely unjustified loss.

The reason behind this is because this film is uniquely made and takes on a new, fresh vision to the Spider-Man comics and to animation as a whole. It's almost hard to believe that the creators of this film are the same people who made "The Emoji Movie" and have now made this animated film that is full of raw energy, stunning animation, and a tight and detailed storyline.

In case you haven't seen the film, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is an average high school kid from Brooklyn. His father (Brian Tyree) is a city cop and his mother (Luna Lauren Valez) is a nurse who both push Miles to succeed in everything he does, which they initiate by sending him to a preppy, private high school. This ultimately causes tension between Miles and his father, which is only heightened after Miles and his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) are out one night and Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider.

After some confusion about what's happening to him, Miles goes back to the scene of the place where he was bitten and is confronted with the original Spider-Man (Chris Pine) and witnesses the hadron particle collider going off and opening a portal that brings other dimensions and realities into Miles's. The plot then continues to follow Miles interacting with the other Spider-people who come through this portal, who all aim to help Miles figure out how to become the ultimate version of himself as Spider-Man and in defeating the antagonist, Kingpin.

Not only is the plot intricately written with plenty of humor, sharp wit, and plot twists woven into it, but the animation in "Spider-Verse" is made to look strictly like drawings from a comic book and it shows why all superhero movies should be animated. It is not an exaggeration when I say that this film has the most stunning visuals I have ever seen and it surpasses any animated film I in terms of the technique the animators utilized. One of the most appealing parts of the movie is the amazing art direction that it took because it is nothing like modern audiences have seen before, which is one reason as to why this film deserves the proper recognition at the Oscars.

This film broke boundaries with its animation style, but, Sony and Marvel have also shown that it is still possible to make revenue (a really large revenue, in fact) with a diverse cast. "Black Panther" stood out when it was released last year with its primarily black cast and "Spider-Verse" has done the same thing with the protagonist being an Afro-Latino teenager. It should not come as a surprise that people want to see themselves represented on the big screen, yet it appears as though Hollywood is only coming to terms with this. With this incredible success, we can hope that more diversity in Marvel films will follow.

And I am confident that it will. Including people who are not primarily white in narratives and including POC does much more in terms of just equality, but, it shows that more interesting and incredibly successful stories can be told. The main theme surrounding the film is that "Anyone can wear the mask" and "What makes you different is what makes you Spider-Man", and with these words, we can see that the way superhero movies will be told from here on out is going to change for the better.

The incredible animation style and the way this film will change superhero films as we currently know it thus justifies why "Spider-Verse" is the only proper film to win Best Animated Feature. It took home the award for Best Animated Feature at the 24th Critics' Choice Awards, so now we can only hope that the proper recognition will be given to it at the Academy Awards on February 24th, 2019.

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