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Cleveland Artist Spotlights
Cleveland, meet Searius Addishin. An active performance poet, planner, program coordinator and educator, Searius finds himself back in the greater Cleveland area after a number of years of creative practice in L.A. Working 2 and 3 jobs in L.A. was the norm, he says, for many creatives, which left very little time to devote to making work. Being back in Cleveland and reinvigorated to push his craft to the next level, he came to Arts Cleveland looking to get reacquainted with our rich arts community. He took off running and started making connections across the city immediately! We’re excited to see him so energized by the incredible creative people and places we have to offer here and can’t wait to watch his artistic talents flourish. Cleveland is glad to have you back, Searius!
Arts Cleveland [AC]: Can you briefly describe your work and who you are as an artist?
Searius Addishin [SA]: I am a performance poet (aka “spoken word artist” also known as a “slam poet”). If theatre and prose had a car accident, the impact would be called “performance poetry”.
AC: How were you introduced to your craft?
SA: That answer is two-fold:
I had been speaking in oratorical contests since the 3rd grade and I picked up Hip-Hop in the 6th grade. Around the time of my first quarter at Ohio State University (Fall ’99) I had a strong appreciation for Saul Williams, and his role in the movie Slam. After watching it (repeatedly) I said to myself- “I want to have THAT effect on people!”
Secondly, around that same time I met a young lady in my college dorm. Ironically, she was from Cleveland and was a poet (go figure). I would spend three nights listening to her poetry. Finally, she asked me if I wrote poetry. I replied “Yes, of course”… which was NOT the truth at all. She excitedly replied, “Great, can I hear some tomorrow night?” And… that marked the beginning of my relationship with the craft, lol.
AC: Poetry writing is often thought of as a very personal form of creative expression. What do you like most about performing your written works publicly?
SA: Overall it's humbling. First of all, I’m very specific in my definitions of poetry versus "monologuing." There is nothing wrong with the latter: example: speaking in a certain cadence, ultra-passionately while expressing your innermost experiences or perspective is awesome. Many call this poetry. Oftentimes, I think this fits more accurately under the "monologue" label.
That aside, I love the connection. I think it's nothing short of "magic" to express an idea to an audience of strangers and you look and see appreciation in the eyes of a stranger or in the verbal response from a stranger, prompted by your piece. I live for that!
AC: In your words, can you describe the difference between performance poetry and a more straightforward poetry reading?
SA: The key difference in many cases is the intentional theatre or "drama" involved in the reading or performance. In performance poetry, a huge part of the piece is how you convey it. It's not just the written word but the "spoken word." Poetry that's created under the pretense of being read many times is very intentional about literary devices (used or not); simply the writing in general. I think this is done because there is no intention for the piece to "live" based on the performance of its creator- but primarily from how its read.
AC: Who are your long-standing influences?
SA: I would say Saul Williams and Columbus’s own Scott Woods. I was not inspired as to style… but no two-artists resonated with me like they have.
AC: Describe your idea of artistic success.
SA: “Artistic success” to me is an equation that includes three variables: 1) the artist’s self-identity; 2) the listener or reader; and 3) room for artistic growth without losing the listener or reader. This is the artist’s responsibility. A “garnish” to this plate would be enough artistic income where s/he can provide for most needs (and a few wants)
AC: Great definition of artistic success. Can you elaborate a little on how you see the first three components as the artist’s responsibility?
SA: Certainly! The [intelligent] artist defines "who" they are either directly or indirectly- from the "start". If this does not happen, the artist is literally a slave to external perception. It is the artists' responsibility to be aware of his/her audience. To not be a mere "subject" to them, yet a provider for them is the fine line that we (as artists) dance. Lastly, as people we grow, or chnage. Inasmuch, the crowd doesn't owe us anything. This includes the want of something different- as prompted by our growth. The happening of this is natural, yet the responsibility to capture this growth or "newness" without losing our connection to the audience, is the artists' responsibility.
AC: What is your process for generating new ideas?
SA: Great question! As cliché as it may seem, my main motivation is LIFE. I’m a strong proponent that there are poems happening every second; the artist is just the one that captures reality in the frame of his/her paper and pen (or screen).
AC: How do you feel your work affects your audience? (and/or) How do you
want your work to affect your audience?
SA: I think the audience appreciates and feels my “sincerity”; whether it’s authentic or artistic. I believe the audiences I have been fortunate enough to perform for, admire my performance. The degree of admiration may depend on the audience and/or the piece.