A blog series created by Darius Parker profiling members of the Kuumba Lynx Performance Ensemble
The Kuumba Lynx Performance Ensemble (KLPE) has been a pillar of Uptown and Chicago for twenty years. Since her inception, the Kuumba Lynx founders and the original KLPE members have always utilized one key element in the development of their creative works, courageous voice. By history, the Lynx, a component of the organization’s name, is a member of the cat family, it is known to be small in size but hosts a mighty roar.
Kuumba Lynx has participated in Chicago’s -wide slam poetry competition, Louder than a Bomb for sixteen years, awarded five 1st place titles, making them the most decorated slam poetry team in the competition’s history thus far.
With a new year and new poetry festival approaching, members of the 2017 Slam Team sat down with alumni Darius Parker. They navigated their individual writing process’, shared some of their favorite KL writing and performance pedagogy, and discussed how they are preparing for to slam this spring. This series of #ViewsFromTheLynx will profile the 2017 slam poetry team in its entirety.
Next up on the MIC is Darrius W.L.. Darius is a senior at Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center. He has been writing for quite some time, however he has spent the last year strengthening his dance skills as a KLPE participant. He is the newest additions to the KL slam poetry team family.
DP: Describe to me your style of writing.
Darrius: When I write I do so to sort of purge these emotions I have bottled up because I’ve been conditioned to not outwardly express my emotions. I kind of hold on to them [emotions] and then expunge it through my writing.
DP: How long have you been writing?
Darrius: Since I was in the 8th Grade.
DP: Describe to me the content of your writing.
Darrius: I write about heartbreak a lot and not really experiencing love enough to know exactly what heartbreak is. I write about being sad and upset as well.
DP: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Darrius: Real life experiences and things that have happened to me directly as well as emotions that are evoked from someone else’s writing or something I hear in the news or different art forms in general.
DP: You mentioned that you write about love often, can you tell me about your favorite love poem you’ve written?
Darrius: I have one that’s called four years and its basically about me experiencing heartbreak for four years and how I’ve gone through hell and how I’m so broken. I relate it to how in Pop-culture there’s like this demand for pain to be felt and its all surrounded by love. Either you’re in love or you’re just completely heartbroken. So I really draw from popular songs like Destiny’s child, Beyonce or Keyshia Cole. I just say how I’m really not as messed on the inside it’s just the music is making me feel this way and it’s because I’ve never actually been in love and I feel like there’s this strong pressure to be in love and feel loved by someone else.
DP: Have you ever competed in Louder Than A Bomb before?
Darrius: No I have not.
DP: Have you ever attended the slam?
Darrius: Yes I will never forget it. It was my freshman year in high school and I remember Kuumba Lynx performing and I think Sejah was performing a piece about someone having seizures and that stuck with me ever since.
DP: So what brings you to the Kuumba Lynx Slam Team this year?
Darrius: Well Jessica kind of dragged me into it. I was speaking about the Bresha Meadows case and I’m very opinionated and I think on different ideas a lot. You know how like when you’re in the shower and you’re having fake arguments with people? I do that a lot. I’ll just have fake arguments with people so everything I say is usually pretty calculated. For instance when I recorded the video to send a message to Bresha Meadows or to the system that oppresses people, I’ve already had this shower talk so I was ready to go and spit it out and Jessica found it poetic and now I’m here.
DP: How does it feel to be coming into such an award winning and prestigious team?
Darrius: It feels like stepping into a different world. It’s like okay I’ve seen you do all this great stuff and I’ve been told I’m capable of great stuff but I don’t know if my great stuff is synonymous with your great stuff. I’m willing to try and be shaped into the person I know I can be I’m down for it.
DP: Why do you feel unsure of what you can contribute to the team?
Darrius: I’m always very harsh on myself. Even when I dance, which is my primary medium but every time I dance really critique myself. And I’m the same way with my writing. I’m just very critical of myself and I know I’m around people are very good at what they do.
DP: What are you most looking forward to through this experience?
Darrius: I’m really excited to develop my art and to see my writing transform and I know there are therapeutic powers in poetry and I know the writing process is going to help me get over some old wounds and redefine myself as well as the bond and how close everyone grows through it. Even though we all might not be on the same team but everyone is together in this.
DP: What would you say to any upcoming youth poet who’s interested in joining Kuumba Lynx and/or the Kuumba Lynx Slam Team?
Darrius: Well first off you GOT this! You’re going to understand yourself so much more no matter how confident you are. Come in and immerse yourself in the art and being surrounded around the people that are here from staff down to the participants. It’s going to be a metamorphosis and you’ll be walking away with some great relationships.
Slam season has approached and members of the Kuumba Lynx slam team are ready for whatever the competition throws at them. If you liked getting to know Darrius, check out #ViewsFromTheLynx next week for a full feature on this year’s team captain and veteran slam poet, Sejahri V.