Tonight at 399 Meigs St. at 9 p.m.
Buddy Wakefield is a slam poet who the folks from 399 Meigs St. invited over for a performance during his five-week tour. Wakefield was twice awarded the Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, has been featured on many radio programs, opened for Ani DiFranco and releases CDs of his poetry on her record label, Righteous Babe Records. When Flagpole spoke with him a week before his show in Athens, he was driving into the Washington mountains and trying to ignore the stress of the complications of starting a tour.
Buddy Wakefield: I’m focused and here for you and can answer all of your questions.
In my work I’m constantly expressing my ideal self. My style when I’m onstage is to be present with whatever’s happening.
I would way rather [perform] in small towns. People are hungrier for good information. In
the big city I think I’m seen—as opposed to as an individual, as a person expressing his ideal self and facing that super vulnerably—I think I’m seen as an artist and under the microscope of a lot of noses that are generally turned upward, or hyper diversified and so culturally overloaded that they miss the point.
It's easier to say what I have to say about religion and sexuality and spirituality to a city crowd than a small town crowd, but I’m not going to censor that material to anyone who may not have heard it like that before.
I think in small towns people just come to enjoy some new shit. It’s fun, and I get to hang out and have a drink and meet new folks. You know, that happens everywhere, not to knock a city, it's just way better in small towns; it always feels better. People feel more alive after the show, whereas I think in a big city, people are going to a coffee house to talk about it instead of live it.
Can I tell you that I watched a movie last night called Lars and the Real Girl? And can I also tell you that it rocked my world? And I woke up this morning and my world was still rocked by the part where Ryan Gosling asks his brother when he knew he was a man. Do you remember that part? And the brother says that it wasn’t the sex, it wasn't so much any one thing, it was just that he started living right. He just started doing right and he just started doing what he knew was good for himself and good for everyone around him and good for this life. It’s so simple and rad, and I love the vibe of the whole movie: the thought that a whole town could contribute to helping somebody be better.
So, here's what's going to happen: I’m going to show up to Athens; I'm going to be super stoked because Athens is known for being badass, whether it’s a small town or not. It’s not like no one's ever heard of it; it’s fuckin' awsome. The people who organized it were really rad to me. It’s always nice to be invited and not have an agent set it up. So, it’s going to be intimate and personal; everybody there is going to be there because they want to be, or because they heard some rumor about me and they want to check it out and see if it's true. And we’re going to have a good time in the moment because I’ll be able to be present once I’m on the tour, and have some laughs and put our cards on the table. Dig me, dig you, no bullshit and that’s it.