St. Mary’s City, MD—Rudy Francisco is easily one of the most recognizable names in the genre of spoken word poetry. Spoken word is a performance based sector of poetry, where not only verbiage is taken into account, but also inflection, tone, and even body movements. Francisco resides in San Diego, CA, where he was born and raised. He got his start in slam poetry, winning several competitions. Now he has four collections of poems published, and has toured around the country with his performances. Videos of Francisco speaking have garnered millions of views on YouTube.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, Francisco visited St. Mary’s College of Maryland and performed some of his best-known works. The crowd was an eclectic mix of students from all backgrounds with one common interest–a love for poetry. Francisco is more than just a poet, he’s an entertainer. Between each piece, Francisco interacted with the audience and told stories. He described the inspiration for the next poem to be read, he delved into tales of his childhood, his daughter, even joked about his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Francisco encouraged participation during his poems, which the audience eagerly did as they snapped pictures, laughed, teared up and whispered comments of awe (“Wows” and “Oh my Gods” pervaded the air). With no notebook or paper in hand, Francisco had all of his poems memorized, and saturated the room with an ambiance of his choosing based on his voice. Some works were read with desperation, others anger, longing, nostalgia—Francisco can make an audience feel simply with his methodology of articulating words.

Francisco’s poems seek to create a relatable, or even eye-opening, dialogue. He speaks about high school crushes, music, social justice, being a father. His topics and diction are accessible, and his mannerisms and speech have the audience gripping onto every single word, listening intently for what comes next. Watch the video below to see Francisco perform his poem “Adrenaline Rush” in Minnesota.

Image courtesy of Rudy Francisco.