by Anne DeLello ’20 A&E Staff
On Feb. 20, Providence College hosted Joel Francois, a New York-based spoken word artist, for his Free the Poet! performance and dialogue. A group of students joined Francois as he shared his spoken word poetry, as well as during the Q&A session after the performance.
Francois is an artist in his late 20s, originally from Brooklyn, New York. He emerged on the poetry scene and has gained more popularity within the past few years. While he is based in New York, Francois travels around to perform at colleges, workplaces, and other events.
Culture Trip wrote an article about Francois, explaining, “Joel writes to remedy all of the wrongs in the world and expresses his unique voice by writing his reactions to what he sees in the world.” The article goes on to quote him, “I see a truly wounded world around me, and writing is how I medicate it.”
On Wednesday night, PC’s Kingsley Metelus ’21 provided an opening performance featuring his original poems and an introduction for Francois. This was followed by a 45 minute performance by Francois himself.
Francois’ set featured “poems about his family, love poems, and black poems” both because race plays a major role in his poems and in honor of Black History Month. Some of the poems he included were titled “Haiti,” “Interchangeable Parts,” and “Liars.” His poetry certainly carries his intended message, addressing the flaws of the world today through his melodic verse.
After his performance, Francois sat with the group and candidly answered any questions the students had. When asked how he came up with the metaphors in his verse, Francois replied that that was not in fact the hard part for him. He went on to say, “For the most part my poems are grappling with complicated images, but I try my best to say it in the most simple language as possible.” This reflects the message that he told through his poems for the entire night: he gave an honest message in simple language that addressed the real problems in the world today.
He also gave out advice for anyone who asked him, telling the group that, “If you find yourself unable to write it might be just time to live,” encouraging students to go out and experience things, and then to use those experiences in their writing.
Free the Poet! brought together PC students to listen to poetry and converse with Joel Francois. It was a great opportunity to listen to an up-and-coming poet and learn from him as well.