The days when the images of poems that looked like those of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson are being turned upside down and in the best ways. Going to school, poetry was a stanza. 4 lines with rhyming words, or perhaps a well thought out Haiku that appeared to be deep in meaning, but was written hastily because it was due the next day. In fact, poetry was one of the most dreaded and least favorite subjects in school and when it was time for the poetry section in High School, a collective groan could be heard echoing throughout the room. But, Emanuelee, or Outspoken Bean, as he is more widely known is living in poetry, and he has turned it into the coolest and hippest form of expression.
Emanuelee Outspoken Bean
Emanuelee Bean was always into the arts. He was a military brat and lived all the world, but it was his late brother that introduced him into the world of writing. When Bean was 10 years old, he saw his brother rap for the first time, and he thought how cool it was and he started to rap in his head. Then he would rap in his room, where no one would hear him, and eventually he transitioned in college from freestyle battle type rap to actual poetry. The transition came about because he had an epiphany.. of sorts. Bean noticed that the girls were all hanging out with the poets who were “slamming” and not the freestyle rappers who were riffing rap insults at each other.
Outspoken Bean is living in poetry, he is a teacher at WITS, Writers in the Schools, and he is the coach of the Metafour poetry slam team here in Houston, which is an International winning team of youths ages 13 – 19. Bean is also living in poetry because he competes in poetry slams as part of the Houston VIP slam team and travels all over the country to compete in poetry slams and perform his poetry. Bean also has a one man show called “Converse” that he is reviving, that involves audience participation that includes poetry and open dialogue.
Before meeting Emanuelee Outspoken Bean, we had no idea what a poetry slam competition was. In our mind, we pictured a coffee house with poets at an open mike night, giving off deep thoughts, but that is a far cry from a slam. The poetry slam was started in Chicago at the Green Mill Tavern by Mark Smith, and it is the competitive art of performance poetry. It puts an emphasis on writing and performance, encouraging poets to focus on what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.
In a poetry slam competition poets perform their work and are judged by members of the audience. Typically, the host or another organizer selects the judges from the audience, who are instructed to give numerical scores, on a zero to 10 or one to 10 scale, based on the poets’ content and performance. Each poet must read a poem that is their own and they get three minutes to read it. They are not allowed to use props, costumes or musical instruments, but they can use their cell phones if the poem is on the phone and they need it to read off of. Of the scores the poet receives from the five judges, the high and low scores are dropped and the middle three are added together, giving the poet a total score of 0-30. Those with the highest move on to the next round and so on, until there is a winner.
The ultimate goal? To get to the National Poetry Slam, which is where the top six teams from all over the Country and Europe compete for the grand title. Bean’s team goes every year. This would be the Metafour team.
Living in Poetry
Emanuelee Outspoken Bean is charismatic, down to earth, in constant motion and vibrates with energy. He is passionate about his poetry and about building young people to be eloquent thinkers and doers. He gets tremendous satisfaction out of mentoring and meeting with kids from all walks of life and figuring out who they are through their words.
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To Emanuelee Outspoken Bean, living in poetry means living in the present and embracing life and as he puts it so eloquently;
Poetry is a tool to use to build a safe space for young people to be seen, heard and taken seriously. It is also a way to create beautiful conversations with strangers.