Javon Johnson at Stetson University

Rene Campbell, Associate Editor of Touchstone

            Javon Johnson, a spoken-word poet, writer, and professor known for his work “Killing Poetry: Blackness and the Making of Slam and Spoken Word Communities” sat with Stetson students on Thursday, Jan 23, to discuss the relationship between the physical body as part of larger political systems within poetry. 


            The visit, sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, as well as the Office of Student Development and Campus Vibrancy, partnered with Hatter Network’s own Touchstone staff to provide Stetson University students the opportunities to experience a poetry workshop led by Johnson himself, as well as hear a set of his own work later that night at Uncouth Hour. 


            Johnson’s workshop emphasized the importance of creativity and poetry specifically as a tool to think beyond our current society.


            “The workshop is designed to have folks think about their own selves and how they are situated in the world and how the person is always already political,” Johnson stated. 


            His message was clearly understood by the students who attended the workshop. Todd Hewling ‘24 appreciated Johnson’s ability to bring art and politics together, “I have a better, in depth understanding about how political poetry and art function. Javon made it very clear about how it can impact the world around us and have a legitimate change.”


            The workshop pushed Stetson’s creative minds to expand beyond what they have ever done before. Daniel Crasnow ‘20 explained that “I learned to write about the body. For me, I ended up writing my piece about cracking my fingers, which I had never thought about doing…I saw an expansion in my ability today.”


            Later in the evening, students were able to see Javon Johnson’s advice come to fruition at Uncouth Hour, where he performed an hour long set of his work. His set ranged from poetry about romantic relationships, issues of race, and politics. One poem in particular, “cuz he’s black” about Johnson’s own nephew growing up as a black boy, has over 2 million views on Button Poetry, a Youtube channel dedicated to the promotion of performance poetry. 


            Mackenzie Sholton ‘21, a frequent attendee of Uncouth Hour, appreciated Johnson’s set. 


             “I thought he was amazing,” Sholton exclaimed. “I was captivated from the time he stepped onstage to the time he stepped off. As a future educator, I would definitely show him to my kids, I feel that my kids in DeLand would really relate to his work.” 


            The next Uncouth Hour will be on Thursday, Jan 30 in Lee’s Garage at 9:30 pm.