Saul Williams is a jack-of-all-trades. Along with doing slam poetry, Williams raps, writes music and prose, and acts. He was born in New York in 1972. He earned a BA in philosophy and acting from Morehouse college and an MFA in acting from NYU. It was during his time in New York City that he entered the cafe poetry scene that sparked his interest in the art. Since then, he’s won the title of “Grand Slam Champion” of the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe. He also competed in National Poetry Slam in Portland and was featured as the lead role in the movie Slam.
Saul Williams is a “rapper, singer-song writer, musician, slam poet, activist, writer, and actor”- partly because people are unsure what to classify him as and partly because his poetry tends to mix mediums and defy genre. Equipped with a BA in acting and philosophy from Morehouse College in 1994 and an MFA in acting from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1997, Williams’ entered the poetry scene in 1995 and soon became a Grand Slam Champion at the Nuyorican Poets Café in 1996. Since then he has released a number of successful poetry collections, received high acclaim for his role in the movie Slam, and most recently released a project called “Martyr Loser King”, which is described by his website as being “Written and recorded between Senegal, Reunion Island, Paris, Haiti, and New Orleans and New York, Martyr Loser King is a multimedia project that engages the digital dialogue between the 1st and 3rd Worlds, and the global street sounds that yoke the two”. Critical both to this piece and Saul Williams’ other works is the idea of fusion- that music, spoken word, acting, and writing are all interconnected to the point where they are inseparable within his poems. He also draws heavily on mythology, hip-hop, rap, and funk while commenting on many major social issues including the brokenness of the prison system, the politics behind the war on drugs, reclaiming African heritage and the current whitewashing of taught history.
ENGL4302 Spoken Word Poetry & Pedagogy at LSU