“In 2011, Sarah Kay performed her poem “B” at the TED conference in Long Beach, California to standing ovations. Now the video of that performance has been forwarded to mothers and daughters (and fathers and sons) all over the world. Originally written in 2007, “B” is a thank you note, a love letter, a wish, a promise, a confession, and a secret. With beautiful illustrations by Sophia Janowitz, “B” is finally available in this whimsical, magical book. This book is the perfect gift for every mother and every daughter. Short, touching and lovingly illustrated, it is a family tradition waiting for you to start.” (description from Goodreads)
I first heard this poem performed quite awhile ago. I was just starting to listen to spoken word poetry through the IndieFeed: Performance Poetry podcast, and from that I was searching youtube for various poets and videos. I came across Sarah Kay and fell in love with what I heard.
The performance I listened to was from the TED conference, referenced in the description. It became one of my favorite poems to listen to. This is why I was happy to find out that the poem was available in print. I hadn’t read a spoken word poem before. I didn’t know what to expect. Would the emotions, the power, or the essence Sarah Kay brought to this poem through speaking it out translate to the page and move me? Well it did.
I’m one to enjoy seeing words on a page. I like to see how they are placed on that page; how the poet wishes his or her words to be visualized on the page. For B, there may not be many lines and there may not be many words, but B holds the beauty Kay’s performance in how it’s presented. There are illustrations to go along with the text and I think that makes the experience that much better.
The reader is able to slowly soak in the poem over roughly 50 pages, when a less creative and resourceful poet may only have used 2 or 3 pages for a poem the same length. At first I had at hard time justifying paying for one poem that I knew only takes the poet a few minutes to read, but I’m glad I didn’t let that stop me from trying it out.
I’m happy to have B and Sarah Kay on my shelf. This has become one of my favorite books of poetry. I’m happy to have it in my collection.
Because this is a poem for everyone to experience, I’d like to make sure I share the recording of Sarah Kay’s TED talk performance. It starts out this video. Following it is her inspiring talk from the conference, as well as, a closing poem.
And I’d like to give a few more links to her poetry, specifically those from the IndieFeed podcast:
- 836 – “B”
- 897 – “Peacocks”
- 898: Sarah Kay & Phil Kaye – “The Origin Story”
- 955 – “Hand Me Downs”
- 1021 – “Brother”
SARAH KAY IS:
a New Yorker. a poetry writer and reader. a spoken word poetry teacher. the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E. with Phil Kaye. a witty banter enthusiast. a postcard lover. a documentary filmmaker. a foodie. a playwright. a singer. a songwriter. a photographer. a best-selling author of the book B. an editor for Write Bloody Publishing. a Gemini. a mediocre driver at best. a musical theater geek. a smoothie expert. the daughter of a Taoist mother and a Brooklynese father. a hapa. less cool than her little brother. an alum of the United Nations International School. an alum of Brown University. an alum of Brown University Graduate School’s Masters Program in the Art of Teaching Secondary English.