Spoken-Word Videos


Here are videos of my poems.  There are often multiple versions of each piece online, so I've tried to collect the ones that display the best performances here.  Rather than embed each one, I've put an hour-long playlist at the top of this page; below are links to individual videos.

Smalltalk
I like to start with this one. Kind of a mission statement or introduction to why I do this.

The Family Business
This is a piece about work and identity, and the relationship between who does the work and who benefits the most from that labor. This is one of the pieces I'm most proud of, and there are multiple versions online; THIS one is the best, though.

Love in the Time of Zombies
This is a love poem I wrote back in 2006, before zombies were cool.

Ten Responses to the Phrase "Man Up"
This was my first poem to go viral, thanks to a bunch of different blogs, tumblrs and facebook walls.  It's one of a series of poems about masculinity and the construction of gender. The video linked to above is the best version, via Button Poetry; here's the older one too.

REACH
NEW video via Button Poetry. This is an artists' statement poem; it's me trying to work out in my head what the goal of an artist is.

A Prayer for Indie Rappers
The title refers to hip hop artists, but this is really an anthem for anyone who does any kind of creative work. This is my personal mantra, the poem that keeps me moving forward.

Starfish
I think a lot of activists-- and people in general-- struggle with the tension between doing positive, face-to-face direct service work and trying to create large-scale, sustainable, institutional change.  We need both, obviously, but it can be a challenge to figure out where you fit in.

Cherry Spoon Bridge to Nowhere
This is a poem about the iconography of the Twin Cities and Minnesota, about how the symbols we so often use to represent our community come up short.

Handshakes
Another poem about masculinity and the construction of gender. It also needs a catchier title.

Action
This is a poem about rape culture, and specifically about men's responsibility to fight rape culture.

A Pragmatist's Guide to Faith
More info on this poem/song here.

Quicksand
An extended metaphor about how we respond to injustice, especially when we're not directly affected by it.

A Visit From the PC Police
This is a poem about reframing the idea of "political correctness" and the power of language.

The Last Words of a Roach, Underfoot
This is an older poem and a love poem. This is also one of my few pieces where I don't really talk about what it's "really" about. Open to interpretation.

Confessions of a White Rapper
Writing about racism and privilege can be easy when you're just saying "racism is bad!"  I wanted to write something a little more challenging-- not just for the audience, but for me, someone who benefits from privilege.

The Mommy Effect
On some level, this is a poem about military recruitment; it's also, however, about mothers, and the lack of respect afforded to them by the powers that be.

Lightning
A common theme in my work is the idea of using "negative" energy like pain, anger and sadness as ammunition for doing something positive, re-focusing whatever's inside of us in a constructive way.  This is an a capella version of a song on the new Guante & Big Cats! album.

Level Up: My Autobiography as a Learner
This was actually a project for a class that I was in; I attempted to trace my experiences with the education system and draw out some ideas.

Neutral
While specifically addressing the Anoka-Hennepin teen suicides, this poem is really about the political ramifications of neutrality.  Like Howard Zinn said, you can't be neutral on a moving train.

The Fist that Lives in Your Neck (Cartpushers)
Along with "The Family Business," "Starfish," "Smalltalk" and a few other poems, this is part of my one-man show about work, and how our jobs influence our identities.

Five Horsemen
This is a poem about the important difference between tragedy and injustice.  It's also about basketball.

Hope is Something You Build
In 2011, I was asked to research, write and perform a poem for the annual Children's Cancer Research Fund gala. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The organization raised a million dollars that night.

Finally, here's a list of poems I like from OTHER people.

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