Bruce George: A Poet For the Stage

By Bridgit Brown

Bruce George is a legend even though he would rather be recognized as a poet. But he is the reason why the art of performance poetry catapulted to stardom in this decade, and continues to thrive despite the rapidly changing interests of the American television viewership. For instance, Russell Simmons Presents Brave New Voices, a seven-part HBO series that began airing in April 2009 was a spin-off of one of his ideas. This documentary-like program was narrated by Queen Latifah and profiled teenaged poets as they competed for the National Youth Poetry Slam - a BIG deal if you're a teen with something to say, poetically speaking that is.

But Bruce stresses that he had little to do with the diffusely organized trend toward performance poetry these days even though the idea behind the HBO series Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam came from him. True that the movement started gaining new ground in the late 1990s, but there would be no television program featuring the art of performance poetry if Bruce did not come up with the idea, share it with a mentor who then shared it with Russell Simmons, and the rest is his story.

Other accomplishments accomplishments include the recently published collection of writings that he edited called The Bandana Republic: A Literary Anthology By Gang Members and Their Affiliates to a number of gigs from providing content for I-Tunes and I-Pod to a cameo appearance in the Oscar-winning film that starred Denzel Washington – Training Day. Currently he is collaborating with poet/essayist Louis Reyes Rivera on a book-in-progress to be titled Street Smarts: An Anthology of Urban Survival Strategies.

When Bruce is not being the indispensable representative of today’s performance poetry movement or performing his own work on stage, he speaks on behalf of the art form and trains others to perfect their poetic flow through performance.

Just recently, he taught a two-day workshop at Berklee College of Music to students enrolled in the college’s Poetry Jam and Slam course. It was during this time that he spoke to Basic Black Perspectives Now on his part in today’s movement to speak poetically.
Peace and Poetry!

About the Author
Bridgit Brown Bridgit Brown
Bridgit Brown is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Emerson College ('98). She was a Fulbright Lecturing and Research Scholar in Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa, and her writing has appeared in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Bay State Banner, Color Magazine, Black Perspectives Now, Colorlines of Architecture, Exhale Magazine, Ibbetson Street Magazine, and Somerville Review.


Support for WGBH is provided by:
Become a WGBH sponsor