Josh Healey is one of the Bay Area's, not to mention the country's, most active spoken-word poets, with loads of accolades, community work, and teaching jobs. His delivery is slow, his enunciation crisp, the lingo is kept to a minimum, but there's an energy underneath, a simmering that makes you hang on his words. For Healey, slam poetry is not just performance; the words themselves matter, and with the release of his book Hammertime: Poems and Possibilities, he continues to merge the verse of the ivory tower with that of the corner market. Be sensible how you label him: One professor wasn't, when Healey spoke on an august university panel. He responded with On Being Called a Street Poet. Sometimes you have bring the battle. What does that make you, Mr. Tweed? A sidewalk poet? A driveway poet? You label my verse 'urban arts.' When you fully gentrify me beyond city borders, what will it be then? Cul-de-sac art? No-mass-transit art? He closes with a right cross: I think you restrict my pen's geography because you're afraid of what will happen if I slip through picket fences and start to write about you. Pow.
Tonight he hosts a Youth Speaks! open mike.
Wed., Aug. 26, 7 p.m., 2009