This week we had an eye-opening phone interview with Bruce George, founder of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, Peabody award recipient, writer, cultural activist and founder of the Genius is Common movement among his many other endeavors. It is impossible not to be engaged by Bruce’s energy, vision and clarity of purpose, or boggled by the breadth of his engagement with social justice and the democratization of voices in our public sphere. In addition to creating Def Poetry Jam (on HBO and the award-winning Broadway show), Bruce is editor of “The Bandana Republic: A Literary Anthology by Gang Members and their Affiliates” (Soft Skull Press, 2008), and is currently working on a new anthology of urban survivor strategies entitled “Street Smarts.” The combination of his roots in New York gang culture and his success at the highest level of creative expression have afforded Bruce a unique and powerful position from which to engage marginalized voices and bring them to broader audiences. He has made that his life’s work, and the world is a better place for it.
Bruce got in touch a few weeks ago as part of his outreach to collaborators and ambassadors to help amplify and diversify the message inherent in the Genius is Common movement. Founded in 2014, Genius is Common breaks down the misconception of genius as the province of only a select few individuals and something to be set apart from the everyday experience of all humans. Bruce reminds us that the word “genius” comes from the word “genie,” meaning our guiding spirit, and he founded the movement to bring light to all the various forms genius can take, in poetry or sports, micro-braiding of hair or even expertly waxing floors, basically wherever a person’s passion and hard work lead them. It’s a revolutionary message of empowerment that Bruce has now spread to all 50 states, 11 countries and counting.
It was an honor to spend some time on the phone with Bruce and feel the conviction in his voice, words and many projects. We invite you to have a listen, check out the website below, and keep your ears tuned to this space for more on the Genius is Common concept from the movement’s newly minted African Arts Ambassador, our very own Eme Awa! What’s your genius?
[Click play to hear our interview with Bruce George – September 27, 2017]