He would come up to the house in Zagreb four or five times a week, and weight train with my cousin David. At first, I was too nervous to talk to him, but each time I did, his brick-like exterior crumbled into smaller, softer pieces. He began e-mailing me some of his poetry, his thoughts, his writing. It was beautiful. And in English, too!
I distinctly remember a clip he sent me. "If I Should Have a Daughter," by Sarah Kay. It was a TED talk, and I love those, so I didn't hesitate to spend 18 minutes watching one (embedded is the four-minute, short-version, subtitled one).
However, when it started, I felt uncomfortable. I scrolled down while it was still going, and tried to understand what I was watching. I didn't realize it was "spoken poetry." Her words seemed too formulated and contrived to be a simple speech.
That was my first encounter with free-verse, spoken poetry. Since then, I've obviously opened my mind a bit more. I've let down that "brick exterior" I accused Toni of having, and now have a deeper appreciation for spoken poetry.
Believe it or not, I've even participated in few local poetry slams. They're open-mic opportunities to dig up novices, or to see the unprofessional practiced poets "do they thaaang."
Something about hearing the poet read the poem with her voice is more engaging than reading it yourself, or hearing it read by a random third party. It feels more accurate, sounds more accurate; more true to the poet's intended feeling or message.