Interview With Slam Champion and Poet: B. Sharise Moore

Yesterday, Slam champion and poet, B. Sharise Moore and I discussed her career as a poet and her thoughts on poetry, slam, and rap. Here is the transcription of that interaction.

Owl: Who is B. Sharise Moore?
B. Sharise: First and foremost, I am a Black Woman. I am a product of New Jersey. I’m a dreamer, an educator, a writer, and a thinker.

Owl: What is poetry?
B. Sharise: Poetry is subjective. To some it is sunrise, to others, a sunset. I hope my poems are thoughtful, searching, gritty, and fresh.

Owl: How did you get started in poetry and spoken word poetry?
B. Sharise: I started writing poetry when I was 13. I was inspired by Countee Cullen’s poem “Yet Do I Marvel” and never looked back.I wasn’t REALLY inspired to do performance poetry until I was a Junior at Rutgers University. Twice a year, there was an event on campus called Poethic. It was an open mic in the Paul Robeson Cultural Center. Each event had an amazing feature. In 1998, Jessica Caremoor was the feature. I was amazed. She inspired me to perform my poetry. From there, I started competing in slams throughout the state of NJ and in NYC.

Owl: What is the difference between poetry and spoken word?
B. Sharise: Poetry & spokenword can be interchangeable. Poems meant for the page CAN be performed. Spokenword oftentimes doesn’t read well. This is why I tend to refer to myself as a performance poet. I am a poet who performs.

Owl: What is the difference between poetry and rap?
B. Sharise: Rap is an offshoot or byproduct of poetry, but it is influenced by oratory. Rap is also much more confined than poetry. Rap is dependent upon cadence, rhythm, and rhyme. Poetry can employ these devices, but it isn’t dependent upon them.

Owl: You have a poem in your new Chapbook, “How To Love”, can you discuss the impetus for writing that?
B. Sharise: My poem “How to Love” is a persona poem in the voice of Mamie Till Mobley, the mother of Emmitt Till. In the poem, she gives Lil Wayne a history lesson on her pain as a result of having to bury her murdered & disfigured son. I wrote it bc it was the only way I could accurately respond to Wayne’s deplorable lyrics comparing sex w/ Till’s lynching. Those lyrics really made me pause…they made me sick, they embarrassed me, and alarmed me. I wrote it in Ms. Mobley’s voice as I would have imagined her reaction if she were alive.

Owl: What do you see as your purpose for your poetry?
B. Sharise: This may sound strange, but it has always been very difficult for me to take ownership of my poetry. It doesn’t come from me. Not really anyway…I don’t write a lot of “positive” or “uplifting” poetry because I don’t see the world through that lens. I have seen and experienced injustice and that is what I write about. I try to write poetry that makes readers uncomfortable. If I’m not making my readers/listeners uncomfortable, I’m not doing my job as a poet. My poetry is very political. I question the system. I question my own choices. I question our collective reactions to oppression/adversity & I ask my readers to think. I hope my poems are vehicles for thought. We need to think about the ugly things and the magic we need to make them beautiful.

Owl: How has social media advanced your brand?
B. Sharise: Social Media has enhanced my brand by making me more accessible to networking with other like minds. I’ve booked shows, sold product, and discovered alternate avenues to publishing through social media. I’m grateful for it.

Owl: What is your advice to those that have not yet done what you have but would like to follow or emulate?
B. Sharise: I always tell writers to read. Great writers, read a lot. I also have a list of poets and books I can give them to research. If they are interested in performing, I’d say practice and observe. Look up different performance poets. Observe their styles. There are so many performance poets and no 2 are alike. Develop your style. Study your craft and start performing!

Owl: and what is the new chapbook about and how can people access it?
B. Sharise: The new chapbook is called “A Haunted House In Summer”. It can be purchased on B. Sharise Moore’s Haunted [Website].