Genghis the Warrior Poet

That was my stage name back in the day. And that day of course, was 6 or so years ago. Back when slam poetry was the most dramatic thing to happen in my life since I got stuck riding an inner tube on a ride at Schlitterbahn and cried until somebody came and gave me a shove. True story. Anyway, my last name is Khan, and so the connection to Genghis was inevitable for the skinny, awkward, trying too hard to make everyone laugh, indian boy with an afro who grew up in the suburbs. I wasn't the one who started this warrior poet business though. I used to walk into Mitchie's Fine Black Art Gallery off of I-35, write my name down as Genghis, and just spit all my anger and frustration at the injustice of the world into a microphone in a poetic flow influenced by CX'rs on the debate team and Immortal Technique. I was not, in fact, on the debate team. My speech teacher, Mr. Murrell happened to be the debate coach, and he's the one that got me started. Suffice it to say, I would spend many afternoons after school discussing slam with him while the debate team was practicing in his portable.

But back to Genghis. I was on stage, in front of people, and for the first time, I wasn't trying to make them laugh. I was loud. I was serious. I was dramatic. I was Genghis. Then as I kept advancing in the slams, and the venue changed to Ruta Maya, I was bestowed the moniker that would haunt me for the next 5 years or so by some host named midnight, or moonlight, or something. Genghis the Warrior Poet. I loved it at the time. It was a bit more dramatic than I was prepared for but it had a nice, cliche sort of ring to it that only a 17 year old can appreciate. And I was flattered that some random person remembered me in his own performance as host on stage. Anyway, the name stuck in the poetry circles because, well, there really aren't a lot of brown people in slam poetry. When I started out, I was the only one. I was the random indian kid shouting into the microphone about, "Life is DEAD!!!" and other random crap. Genghis the Warrior Poet. Oh the pain.

Anyway, as I got older, I stopped competing as much, and the name was sort of left to the wayside. Now as I'm maturing, slowly but surely, I'm able to look back on my old nickname and see how it influenced my performances and my persona on stage. Genghis was this strong, dynamic, angry, man. Pretty much the opposite of myself. I was always the joker. I was always the class clown. I tried to make everyone laugh and I was constantly laughing and smiling myself. I remember sitting at my gate with the rest of the Austin u21 slam team at La Guardia and a team mom asked me why all my poems were so serious. I told her I'm a serious guy. She looked at me for a second, and just laughed. She was like, there is no way you're that serious. I didn't know how to respond, because, well, I was that serious. A part of me indulged in that dark, brooding, angry person that would surface when I got on stage. A part of me could tap into Genghis. The part that would sit and draw for hours after school. The part that would write in his journal every night pretending to be a writer. Then when I would get off stage, I would go back to class clown mode. It was weird, but I never thought about it before.

I don't want to say that Genghis was my alter ego, that Genghis only existed on the stage. Genghis was the name I gave to another side of myself. The personal side of myself. But it wasn't like it was a secret. It was just a part of myself that I didn't really allow outsiders to know about. Anyway, this post deserves more discussion, especially this pseudo duality's effect on performance, stage fright, writing...le sigh.

I don't have the time, and to tell you the truth, I'm hungry as hell. Ramadan is very spiritual and all, but your stomach takes quite the hit.

Peace and love.