St. Joseph’s College invited students, faculty and staff from both campuses to join spoken word artist, musician and actor Drew Drake for an hour of poetry and conversation Monday during Common Hour.
The event, which helped kick off Virtual Spring Fling, took place via Zoom, where Drake encouraged participants to get involved by leaving comments in place of clapping. He also asked the audience to share any questions there, which he addressed during the last 10 minutes of the event.
Continuing the Conversation
Drake drummed up engagement and added some comedy throughout the virtual event by asking the audience his own questions (like if “Kenan & Kel” or “The Wayans Bros.” is a better show, and which 90s female R&B group is the best), and reading some of the responses out loud.
“I just want to hear what y’all are thinking about, because I haven’t had a lot of chances to talk to a lot of people lately,” Drake laughed.
Drake mentioned that some of the most meaningful conversations he’s been having are through his volunteerism with a nonprofit organization called Lunch on Me, which helps feed the homeless in New York City and Los Angeles.
“A lot of times we overlook people living on the streets, so they don’t get conversations, even before COVID hit” Drake said. “The power of conversation is a very strong thing; we’re seeing that right now. The lack of not having conversation with one another, sometimes it’s enough to make us go crazy. So when I go out and talk to the people when delivering meals, I’m really interested in getting to know who they are.”
When it comes to writing, Drake said that one of his biggest inspirations is author Zora Neale Hurston.
“What I love the most is how she was able to make a real snapshot of a particular moment and really create it so vividly that you feel like you’re a part of it,” Drake said. “I think she’s one of the most underrated writers, too. During the Harlem Renaissance, often times she was overlooked for being a woman, but she was writing straight gold.”
“I just love her, period,” Drake said of Hamer. “I think who she was as a civil rights leader is just amazing, and I love how she intertwined the local church and social justice together. Especially me, my family lives in Alabama. And so to see her make such a strong stance on voter suppression in the south — I’m completely in awe of her work.”
Throughout the event, which was sponsored by the St. Joseph’s College Council for the Arts, Drake did a number of performances, sharing poems ranging in topics from his love for his grandmothers, to student debt collectors, to trying to have meaningful conversations instead of just texting.