Monday, March 5, 2012

Sebastian Jones, The Poet: Beyond the People Issue

Posted By on Mon, Mar 5, 2012 at 5:16 AM

In the Scene's fourth annual People Issue, on stands now, we talk to Sebastian Jones, the East Nashville teen who's a rising star on the city's spoken-word performance-poetry scene. (Eric England's haunting photo alone is worth the click.) He's quick to name writers and poets he admires — Ralph Ellison, Ernest J. Gaines, famed slam poet Saul Williams — but claims few influences on his writing:

At 14, he got involved with the spoken-word project Youth Speaks Nashville (now, and became passionate about poetry. Starting in 11th grade, Jones spent his lunch hour every Friday at Hunters Lane High School running an open-mic show for budding performance poets.

"That used to be slam-packed," remembers Jones. Videos of his performances started appearing online, charting his development as he began to incorporate movement and shadow play into pieces as wrenching as "Danceless Mother" — a direct address to his mother, recorded just a month after her death in February 2011.

"The last time I seen my mother breathing," Jones recites in the piece, watching his shadow uncoil on the wall behind him, "she was hooked up to a machine keeping her alive."

For samples of his work, see the clip above from 2009, when Jones was still a Hunters Lane student, and the clip below, in tandem with fellow Nashville performance poet Rashad.

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