Emmy-nominated def poet Jon Goode recently shared his talents with Penn State Harrisburg students and faculty, opening with an ode to his mother and intermingling jokes and conversation with five other original poems.
Def, or “slam,” poetry uses the literary elements of written poetry with the addition of a dynamic stage performance. Always memorized, slam poems often include verbal and physical twists to draw in the audience.
After an open invitation from Goode, senior Business Administration major Cliff Johnson presented a rhyme he wrote in tenth grade about embracing one’s individuality. Though unplanned, Johnson’s performance fit well with Goode’s theme of self-acceptance and positivity.
Goode, who has performed with Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, stressed that his successes took work and an upbeat outlook despite mistakes and sometimes bad timing. Perhaps the best example was the story of how Goode became a def poet.
A series produced by pioneering hip-hop label, Def Jam, Def Poetry Jam aired on HBO from 2002 to 2007, featuring established slam poets and up-and-comers. Goode was asked to send an audition tape for the show’s first seasons, but twice executives asked him to tweak his act to better fit what HBO was looking for. Each time, he said “no thanks.” Later, his live performance on an area radio station drew the attention of a lead Def Poetry Jam executive.
Goode was asked again to submit a tape, and again he sent the same video. In season four, Goode performed “Barbara” on the show – the same poem he opened with at his campus performance.