Do you recall that initial experience with Sage, and THE effect it had on you? Yessir, he took me to my first ever poetry reading at Cafe 193 Degrees when we were at URI. URI Students for Social Change did a presentation on factory farming destroying the environment and torturing animals. That night I heard kids spilling their guts via love, racism, anti-capitalism, sexism, lust, redemption, etc. via poems. It all hit my brain like a bolt of lightning. After that Sage and I started driving to poetry open mics all over southern New England and I got serious about learning how to write and perform.
I read that you shared a stage with Bill Clinton? Yes, I was a featured poet at the Greenbuild World Expo and Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker. Secret Service actually detained me backstage after they watched my practice session in the hallway and drew the conclusion that I was “praying!” I had a beard and on some total Islamophobic shit they didn’t believe that I was practicing poetry and wanted to know if I realized I was “facing East while practicing”? Finally I was like, “Fellas, you better call somebody because I’m supposed to be on stage right now.”
You were highly active with Occupy PVD, but did you once in a while feel like you were just spinning your wheels out there? Occupy PVD was an amazing display of working-class anger over the mass economic injustice and systematic inequality of the American political and economic system. I didn’t feel like I was spinning my wheels. We didn’t expect much from the powers that be to begin with! On top of that, Occupy was largely operated by folks who were brand new to direct action, but were sick and tired of feeling let down by the limitations of voting or calling their representatives. That was constantly refreshing and inspiring to me.
Any pre-show rituals? I rehearse my lines more than any other performance artist I know. I go over the set in my head and scream at the wall, stretch out my body as well as my voice, and start revving the engine. Push-ups also help.
Where/when does inspiration strike? Anywhere, anytime — it’s mostly about knowing how to excavate those gems of inspiration and universal connections. When real-life metaphors, hypocrisies, and wonders jump out at you in such a powerful way that all the rushing commotion of life is swept aside, you’ve got to give them priority. JARED PAUL | Sunday, November 24 @ 7:30 pm | AS220, 115 Empire St, Providence | 401.831.9327 | All ages | $7 | as220.org | jaredpaul.org | jaredpaulsfr.bandcamp.com