ah… the man, the myth, the legend. well, i didn’t always feel that way about him.
beau was the very first person i ever saw on the mic at 13. here i am half-expecting some finger snappin’. laid back poetry and i walk into this raucous reading of the ‘asians are coming.’ it was almost enough to make me leave. remember, at that point, my longest poem is 100 words long and they are all about the sun & the tides and booty. on the other side of the coin, we have this guy reading from memory, at the top of his lungs, looking like he’s going to hurt somebody.
as we know, i didn’t leave. saw beau finish his poems and stuck around for the rest of the night. i was so impressed with beau that i went out of my way to tell him so. the very first taste of poetic ‘awe’ and what did i get for my troubles? a simple ‘uuhhmm, thanks’ in the most low key voice you ever heard in your life. my quick math said… exhuberant spoken word artist mumbling at me in a half-monotone voice equals someone not looking to talk to me.
my next few experiences around beau were no better. he would occasionally drop by 13 and hang out in the farthest corner of the bar and would speak to only a few people. i didn’t think much of it. considered him very aloof and didn’t bother getting within 5 feet of him for fear that i may bore him to death again.
flash forward to the 2002 nationals and my role as ‘sacrificial poet’
the bout that i sac’ed for included beau’s san fran team. i got to hear beau kick his ‘extreme’ piece and, despite my preconceptions, was once again wowed by his performance. after the bout ended, i was chilling outside plotting my next move when the enigmatic mr sia comes up to me and compliments me on my performance of ‘mercy on the battlefield’ in the same low-key voice i first heard from him but now i was armed with a greater understanding of pets and realized that whatever happens on-stage stays there. you may be displaying this manic revolutionary but inside you could be just as confused as everybody else/ you could be the most rico sauve poet and not know jack about women/ you get the point.
and that is beau… this wonderful mix of different personalities that explode on stage, mostly his in.yo.face.motherfucker! side but if you listen well, his hey.do.you.have.any.idea.how.this.is.going.to.end? comes out.
it all cemented a few months back when i got to check out ‘def poetry on broadway’ with some school kids. after the performance, i was chilling with their teacher and waiting for some of the poets to come out and hook up the kids with autographs. i see beau, compliment on his performance and i get the same low-key ‘uhhmm, thanks’
here is the moral of the story kids… whenever you approach a poet, talk to the person, not the character on stage, or even the poem itself. it’s hard because the words and persona may be so provocative and you are really curious to find out if all those things happened and what happened to the people in them. don’t do it. just chill and respect the person in front of you. they may share with you or they may not. just deal with it and move on. you never know said person may become a cool friend down the road and then you may find out more than you ever wanted to know about all them poems.
or you could find a cool mo’fo like beau who, in front of one of the most prettiest woman i have met in quite a bit (thank you poetry), offered to comp me the next time i go to his show.
beau sia… the man, the myth, the legend… for real y’all