By JOSH SULLIVAN, Sports Editor
“The simile was my first crush, but I only knew how to love, and it only knew how to like,” said Kane Smego on stage in the Stratford Room of the MUB. “Some of my friends grew up playing ball, others on the corner, but either way, they both end up in courts.”
Smego is a spoken word poet, and on Tuesday night, students at UNH got to watch the Durham, North Carolina native perform and talk about the art of spoken word and how he uses it to express awareness on social issues. Smego spoke on several hot button topics, from being raised by a single mother to the exploitation of Martin Luther King Day, and citing his personal experiences in every poem.
“Spoken word is for many years how people got involved in passing down history,” he said. “you can bring people from different backgrounds together and they can go ‘Oh, I never thought you would get how I feel.’”
Smego said that his journey into spoken word poetry first started in elementary school, when he bought Kriss-Kross’s first album and wore his clothes backwards to school. From there, he began rapping, but when he was in high school he joined a slam poetry team that went to the Brave New Voices youth poetry slam in New York City. His team finished in third place, and that opened up a ton of opportunities in the slam poetry world. It became a career when the English as a second language program he was enrolled in at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill was canceled, and he was forced to find a new career path.
“I felt a calling to do something for the betterment of my community,” he said. “And at 21, I found out my passion could be the same thing as my job.”
Smego had no intention of shying away from controversial topics. In a poem called “X Chromosome” he recites “90 percent of all murder, rape and crime is because of males, yet we still stand here and say it’s a man’s world.” In another poem about a young latino boy from an immigrant family he used to tutor, he tells a story about how the boy named Daniel doesn’t want to stop playing Super Mario to stop and do his homework. When his mother tells him that he must study so he does not end up like his father, doing the work that nobody else wants to do, Smego says “No Daniel, one day you are gonna be just like your daddy.”
Smego offered words of inspiration for people in the audience who might be in limbo about what to do with their lives.
When he began his non-profit organization, he performed for free for two years. Smego and his friends would drive 45 minutes to a youth prison or an elementary school to perform and run a workshop, completely free of charge. After establishing a name for themselves, the money started to come.
“If there’s something you love to do, if there’s something you’re good at, work,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and I’m like ‘you’re still 17!’ You’ve got to work for a couple years first.”