Famed slam poet delivers conversational prose

Dressed unassumingly in a gray hoodie and white pants, three-time world champion spoken word artist Buddy Wakefield performed Monday Oct. 28 in the College Union Ballroom. The evening began with performances from members of the Geneseo Poets’ Society. Junior Sarah Diaz and sophomore Jo-Ann Wong delivered their own pieces to usher in the artistry. Diaz graced listeners with her effusive delivery and a voice like honey, while Wong charmingly connected to the audience with tales of childhood and love.

In his fourth time performing at Geneseo, the audience would expect Wakefield to be comfortable with the campus scene. It turns out, however, he seems to make himself comfortable wherever he goes.

“I know I’m supposed to be doing poems, but sometimes I don’t want to,” he said.

He began by asking to turn down the house lights because sometimes, when he’s in front of a lot of people he doesn't know, he “gets nervous about looking at them.”

As Wakefield’s conversation flowed to poetry, however, the audience could not detect a hint of uneasiness. His first poem might have been misunderstood as everyday speech if not for some breathtaking lines such as “cemeteries – that’s just the Earth’s way of not letting go.”

Wakefield wrapped up his first spoken word with a message that we all must embrace the present. Before the poem’s conclusion, he humorously interjected with a conversation about God, embracing his casual performance style. After switching back to his piece, he left the audience with, “When you breathe, you might try freein’ both lungs up.”

To change things a bit, Wakefield brought senior Philip Romano up on stage to play piano in the background. He engaged listeners in another friendly chat, sharing facts about himself with the audience, saying, “There are things wrong with me, clearly.”

After generating additional laughs, Wakefield tackled the sometimes-taboo topic of death. In this piece, he encouraged listeners to reassess their views by saying that death is not a tragedy but rather a graceful occurrence.

With meaningful gesturing and facial expressions to highlight the passion in his poetry, Wakefield transitioned to the topic of self-respect. Once again, he interjected in his own poetic way, reeling listeners back in if they had become lost in his metaphors.

Before his final poem, Wakefield told the audience he really needed to pee. So, to stall his bathroom-break absence, senior Josh Bauscher from the Geneseo Poets’ Society delivered his poem “I Am Love,” maintaining a fervent yet fluid rhythm.

Upon his return, Wakefield asked viewers if they were “OK.” Then, after captivating his audience with a comical unveiling of his final piece, he informed listeners that his last poem would be about love. With lines like, “There’s a freckle on your lip, it’s a national archive,” he brilliantly conveyed his profound feeling for his boyfriend Steve.

Wakefield remained open with the audience and unafraid of humiliating himself throughout the performance. As freshman Alejandro Guidos said, “He combined really deep themes with casualness and humor.”

Freshman Pamela Haas, a member the Geneseo Poets’ Society, said that, around the serious topics of death and love, “it’s good to have some humor in there.”

Never fearing to showcase his eccentricity, Wakefield conveniences spoken word; through his style, he makes it accessible to all. To him, it seems that poetry is no longer an art; it’s a way of being.