Buddy Wakefield infuses poetry with comedy

Fernanda Chamorro/Sun Star Reporter
April 10, 2012

Buddy Wakefield catches his audience's attention with unusual antics during his show in the Wood Center Ballroom at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Thursday, April 5, 2012. Michelle Strehl/ Sun Star

Buddy Wakefield added a spark of humor and deep thought to his poetry slam when he walked on the Wood Center Ballroom stage April 5.

“This is my church. And this church is a house of healing,” he said. “Hallelujah. Welcome, come on in, as you are. Have a look around … stay out of my porn.”

Wakefield started his performance standing on a stool. He was thankful for the room-temperature water, which he said is a necessity for his performances.

Mixing emotional topics and humor, Wakefield seemed to reach everyone in his audience, who responded with laughter or tears, and he was fast to point out those who appeared unemotional.

“Umm hello handsome, how you doin’, you good? I’m sorry, I won’t make an example out of you,” he pointed out one straight-faced spectator. “He looks pissed.”

Wakefield is a 37-year-old openly gay American slam poet, some would probably include comedian in the description. He has won the Individual World Poetry Slam Championships twice consecutively and has released several books and poetry albums.

He has performed poetry for 13 years and loves the big crowds. Authors see him as the poetry slam role model. He quit his job as a Washington biomedical firm’s executive assistant and left everything behind, sometimes sleeping in his car, to begin his career as a poet.

“Let it go, let it go from the get-go,” he said. Though he mentioned that people do not need passion, he did say they need to forgive and forget, because “forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past.”

Wakefield was glad to be back in “Fairbanksiotch,” where he had a fun time with his buddies the last time he was invited. He said if he was invited again, he would definitely make it back up here.

“I thought it was great,” 24-year-old Isaac Thompson said. “It makes you realize what you want to do and then go out and do it. He was a lot more energetic than I expected.”

Wakefield memorizes his poems due to his “obsessive compulsive order” which provides him the patience to edit a poem for however long it takes, he said. His poems sometimes require months of rewriting and his rereading serves as memorization.

Wakefield did not so much change 19-year-old Mickey Zakurdaew’s perspective of poetry slams as the poet made him think about life, Zakurdaew said.

After his performance, Wakefield sold signed books, posters and albums. He gave some of this gear free to students who did not have the money to pay for it because he said he remembered what it was like being a college student.

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