Idris Goodwin - Break Beat Poet

Idris GoodwinWebster University and community partner, the Webster Groves School District, jointly present spoken word artist Idris Goodwin on Wednesday, March 27.

ST. LOUIS, March 22, 2013 –The event promises an evening of unique “break-beat theatrics” — a rich blend of hip hop, spoken word and stage play. Goodwin uses rhythms and rhymes to address a wide range of themes and topics. From teaching race to gun violence, Goodwin balances humor and tragedy with nimble wordplay.

Goodwin will be performing an excerpt from “Stuck in the groove: a stageplay list” along with selected performance poems at 7 p.m. at the Community Music School. Members of WU-Slam will be guest performing some of their works.

The event is free and open to the public.

Idris Goodwin is a playwright and performer. He has been recognized for his work by The National Endowment for the Arts, The Ford and Mellon Foundation, The New York Times and National Public Radio.

He's appeared on HBO's Def Poetry, The Discovery Channel and Sesame Street. “These Are The Breaks,”his debut collection of essays, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. An Award winning educator, he's taught at The University of Iowa, Northwestern University and Colorado College.

Goodwin answered a few questions about work and what inspires him:

You describe yourself as a "break beat poet" - can you describe what that is for those who might not know?
It's a form of performance poetry essentially but more specifically --a break beat poet is one inspired by the rhythms of hip-hop music. The “break beat poet” is interested in not only the meaning of the words but also their rhythmic quality when put into action. The best way to understand is to Google my poem "These Are The Breaks"

How did you get started in this area of writing and performance?
I started out as a rapper then migrated to spoken word and theater. I been practicing all these forms for at least ten years and I am very motivated to find interesting ways to blend them. Generally speaking, it's the live performance aspect to each that I am drawn to. I am drawn to the sound and effects of language in the air, and the call and response between artist and audience.

You will be performing excerpts from “Stuck in the groove: a stageplay list”can you tell us a little bit about that work and what inspired it?
One of the many themes I explore in much of my writing is the personal and universal nature of music. Stuck in the groove is my attempt at using the I-pod "playlist" format in a play---but also create a play that at times feels like a spoken word performance. The piece focuses on a man and a woman examining the role of music in their love lives. 

You will also be spending the day at Webster Groves High School - do you frequently visit schools? What sorts of things do you do with the students?
I got my start performing in K-12 schools in Chicago. Since then I have performed in educational spaces all across the country. I perform my own work, share great poetry by a range of writers--many times writers from marginalized communities often ignored in public schools and even colleges--then I get the kids writing.

You have been on HBO, Discovery Channel and Sesame Street - what has been your favorite experience in dealing with these larger national audiences?
Anytime you can bring your art to more than a room full of people is an amazing opportunity. These national outlets have done wonders in raising my profile.  The best thing about it is when people I meet for the first time have seen the work already.

Idris Goodwin will be performing at the Community Music School at 7 p.m. on March 27.

To learn more about Idris Goodwin, visit his website.