Arts Agenda - Slam master

Poet-actor-musician Saul Williams comes back to Morehouse

Saul Williams has been called a "hyphen-artist extraordinaire," a slightly clunky way of summing up the poet-actor-musician-rapper's distinctly varied resume.

The brunt of the Morehouse graduate's fame comes from the 1998 indie film Slam, which he co-wrote and starred in. The film won both the Sundance Festival Grand Jury Prize and the Cannes Camera D'Or and helped establish Williams as a shining star of the spoken word poetry scene.

Though he now lives in Los Angeles, Williams returns to his Atlanta alma mater April 23 to present a student workshop and share his unique take on spoken word performance.

"I open the floor up from the beginning so that it becomes a bit more of a dialogue than just a performance," Williams says. "I'm always very interested in dialoguing with people and getting to what ideas and issues are out there, especially in our current state of warfare and such."

Since Slam, the artist has directed more creative energy toward his music-making, a progressive brand of experimental hip-hop that blurs the already-thin lines between rap and spoken word. Williams recently finished a stint on the SnoCore Tour along with his band.

For his Morehouse appearance, Williams will focus mainly on poetry, but he will perform a few of his lyrical works, sans musical background. He'll also recite works from his two poetry collections and bring out some new material.

Although it's been four years since the breakthrough success of Slam, Williams says he's still often approached by fans of the film.

"I think that the whole Slam film experience is more than a film that comes and goes," he says. "I think it affects the way a lot of people view reality in their lives, so it touches people deeply. It's a beautiful thing when people say, 'When I saw this movie, it changed my life.'"

Saul Williams performs April 23 at 7 p.m. at Sale Hall on the Morehouse College campus. $5, $2 for students. 404-507-8631. urbanscribes@yahoo.com.??

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