Salam The Poet is a 26 year old Spoken Word artist from Chicago. Writing for over 10 years and performing just shy of that (8 years), Salam uses his craft to spread dope energy through creativity, affirmation, and interaction. Salam’s talent has taken him to stages as big as Bantu Fest, 24/7 Hip Hop’s ‘Check Da Mic’, and Columbia College Chicago’s ‘Manifest’ to spaces as small as High School classrooms, family gatherings, and various community events. Since then, his endeavors have lead him to becoming the host of his own open mics called ‘Spit Yo Peace’ and ‘Truth Be Told’ where he continues to use art, affirmation, energy, and interaction to reach people while simultaneously creating a community safe space.
Give me a little bit about your background. Where are you from and how did you get started in poetry?
I’m a 26-year-old, Spoken Word Artist from Chicago, Illinois. My start in poetry came from my loathing for homework and my love for words and English class. Finding the quickest way possible to get out of homework, so instead of writing papers, I wrote poems explaining the given assignments. At first, it was just something easy, but eventually, a couple of my teachers took notice of my ability, brought to my attention what they meant, and encouraged me to keep going as well as take it seriously.
Tell me about your most memorable poem, what is it saying and why is it your favorite?
The most memorable of my poems, I would say, would have to be “Where I’m From (Harvey Dent)”. This piece talks about so many different things. It touches on the extreme duality of Chicago, what it means to be a Chicagoan, confirms and dispels the myth and notions of the city, educates you on the city’s rich present day and history, and most of all it speaks to the people that are born and raised here in order to give them something to take pride in (the good to the bad because it makes us who WE are) when the rest of the world and media paints only the negative picture. “Where I’m From (Harvey Dent)”, is my favorite for the simple fact that it’s one of my most creative pieces. The creativity spans from A to Z. It’s placed in the title, pop culture references, education, relation, common slang, and so much more which would take a Genius (media company) interview to explain where my mind was in the construction of this piece.
What is your goal as it relates to your poetry writings?
My main goal, as far as my craft, is to reach and teach people through art and affirmation with hopes of taking me to a point where I can mix passion and pay while continuing to produce more creatives, positive energies, and community-safe spaces.
Who are your poetic influences?
The top influences, on the poetic side, are Edgar Allan Poe, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, a few other Harlem Renaissance poets, Mya Angelou, Georgia Ella Lyons, Gil Scott Heron, and Tupac Shakur.
If you could write a poem with one of your favorite poets, dead or alive, who would it be?
Choosing one is hard. Dead poets would be either Gil Scott or Tupac. Alive, I’d say Rudy Francisco and Prentice Powell
What was the last poem you read by another poet and who are your present favorites?
One of my coworkers that just recently found out I was a poet let me read some of her work, and it was quite amazing. Present-day artists that catch my eyes and ears are Rudy Francisco and Prentice Powell as well as home turf favorites such as Ques, Toni Mono, Gem of Shaolin, and Sweet La Vain...just to name a few haha.
How many poems have you written, and do you have plans to publish any of your poems? If yes, where?
On record, I have 56 pieces written. Off the record, there are some lost files that possibly stretch that number into the hundreds. I do plan to get them published once I put together my book titled ‘The Dark, The Light, And The Sight’ which is a book of poetry featuring two other writers, Peter J. Austin and Khalid H. Muhammad.
How do you get into the mindset of writing poetry? What inspires you to write?
The writing process for me is more abstract than concrete. Sometimes I’m inspired by events around me such as creatives, social issues, nature, etc. Other times, it’s purely soul spit and the fire in me is blazing just pushing out different ideas. All in all, my mind, body, and soul must be in sync for me to produce an elaborate, cohesive piece.
What advice would you like to give to upcoming poets?
SPIT YO PEACE!!! Meaning, whatever brings your soul happiness, tranquility, and drives you to keep going day to day...spit that! Don’t spit or write for clout. Make sure it’s authentic to you and be relentless about the passion you put into it. That will take you and make you shine.
If you had one last piece of poetry to write for the world to read, what would you say in 2 sentences?
Your existence will always be a blank canvas for the world. No matter what, allow your art to tell the true story.
I touched hands with oblivion, looked past the brink of the sunshine
Envied the divine birds, embodying freedom from a caged mind
I took time, to make a bond with beauty
If I describe in depth you’ll swear the shatan used me
As I raise my right hand to the artisan, I swear I never thought I’d see it
Heavy breaths and chest reps, like could this really be it
Gaining consolation in my spirit I now fancied foreign
Being frozen at the phenom only thing stopped tears from flowing
Growing ice in my veins pushed adrenaline to new limits, enough for convulsions and involuntary function to give in
But that wasn’t the case, the thing is
When placed in the presence of greatness, it’s quite hard to maintain homeostasis
When you’re staring from an eagles wing with the wind in my face, it’s exhilarating
At one point I thought I was getting closer to my peak until I landed with a new vantage
Where it’s probably possible to point out each print where ancestors might have been standing
Can you imagine how my mind’s losing traction as this is happening
So, I would hope you know I’m not not capping and believe me when I say this...
Always felt skeptical about mentioning my experience with a myth
But I found a place where they welcome the word Thunderbird
Where tribal yells hold the same historical significance as the liberty bell
And those that know the course have met the princess and her horse
They told me that there’s life far from the plateau
Lower crevices nestle villages where culture never died
And prominent water passes land masses only to be met with appreciation and gratitude
No smoke I’m so high I’m lost in latitude, Twilight zone my sense of longitude been long gone
As I sat upon one of seven wonders it hugged me and healed my wounds
I walked sacred grounds, and paid homage history outside of a text book
I’m honored to be blessed with a journey where some may never go or look
I experienced riches beyond monetary wealth, an experience that proved there is something greater than self
I solidified my appreciation and love for nature, the universe solidified the existence of a creator
-Salam The Poet
Ms. Honey Caramel,
I wouldn’t be surprised
If you called the honeycomb home
Worker or Queen you Bee
Unbothered by damaged petals
As long as you stay men free
Others pollinate as they please
But you, selective
Where you get your nectar
Knowing that your hive holds treasure
That real liquid gold
Mix that be commodity
Speaking for itself, saying
“Bottle me and place me for the public. You can find the highest price sold and still couldn’t match the worth of this magic made from the soul.”
Raw and unfiltered
You only feast on the finest
Filled with royal jelly
Your spirit has fed nations
For the hungry you were
To the sick you be medication
Definition of honey to the tea
You something like soul speak
Willy Wonka couldn’t forge this
Your sweet comes with a little heat
A real treat, if they know how to eat
Those who don’t
The name and taste
Will forever be stuck between teeth
Only as pain
A cavity of memories
Because they never wanted you
Only something to chew
Never took pride in unwrapping you
No enjoyment felt
Just a quick fix
Unaware of your fun facts
Once you’ve pass through lips
And placed on the tongue to sit
Hugging taste buds while