Angela Bocage

Robbin’ Robin….

March 17th, at the San Francisco finals of the National Teen Poetry Slam presented by Youthspeaks, a poet did something unprecedented and crazy: after getting scores like 9.2 and 9.4 in the first round for his slash-and-burn Popolitical, and hearing the fierce round of boos from the packed audience in the Masonic Auditorium for the paltry scores, Robin Black spoke directly and defiantly to the panel of judges before his second round offering: “Man, I’m not here for y’all!”

Only then did he throw down The Revelation or the Bullet, a challenge to every human being living in these times. Again the same comparatively low scores, and again the poetry-loving house responded to those scores with outraged screams and boos. And while Robin was thus not one of the five SF poets going on to the next round of the National Slam, he was very, very clear about the message he was there for.

Afterwards, greeted with much more love by members of the audience than he had been by the judges, invited to participate in events, invited to hang out with new poets and poets he’d already heard and respected, and getting his hand grabbed by an elderly lady who told him “those motherfuckers motherfuckin’ robbed you!” Robin isn’t wasting time being mad because he brought the finest rocky road and the judges wanted to taste butter pecan, he’s already going back to the hard work that brought him this far: the high-risk kid with a record, the high-school dropout who chose to teach himself, is taking those next steps he can’t not take, because that’s who he is…not there for the judges, but there for the message, there for the people.

Check out his work at the link on the right, especially Revelation and Popolitical. I looked into this child’s eyes the day he was born and knew he had some kind of amazing gift to give the world, some kind of starry core of fierce compassion and clear vision, and I am proud beyond words that he’s my son.


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