SV: Ramses Prashad

What are the words that America needs to hear from you right now?

A few things:

1.     Don’t forget that you are your brother’s keeper.

2.     Don’t diminish your understanding of brother. Allow it to transcend the borders of your tribe, your community, your nation. Allow it to bulldoze through the walls you've built between "us" and "them," until it's embracing your LGBTQ+ neighbor whom your pastor insists is an abomination. Practice cultivating healthy soil where your understanding of brotherhood can flourish beyond the stifling weeds of prejudice and exceptionalism, allowing you to see the shared humanity of the refugee escaping a war torn land, or the black bodies lying lifeless in our streets.

3.     Be present, be attentive, and listen more than you speak. Don't forget that prophets are not only those who preach from pulpits, but those who are oppressed and on the margins. They are the voices crying out from the wilderness, continuously reminding us that things are not as they should be, enticing and pushing us towards our vocations as healers and redeemers of this world.

4.     Above all, remember, there is no "them," there is only "us."

Photo Credit: Susan McLaren Photography

Photo Credit: Susan McLaren Photography

There are poems that are best read and poems that are best performed. What’s the difference between the two and which do you prefer?

- Depending on my mood, I may prefer to sit and read a well-written poem, while sipping on my favorite cup of chai. You have the ability of creating your own ambiance and setting your own tempo, as you make your way through the poem, pausing between lines to reflect on the genius of a metaphor or the beautiful picture painted by a stanza.

On the other hand, you have live performances that introduce a completely different dynamic. You're not only listening to words, but you're also taking in emotion and body language. It's a sensory buffet that can either leave you feeling in the sky or with a weight in the pit of your stomach, as you traverse the world being created by the poet. And for me, that's absolutely exhilarating!

So, I probably lean more towards live performances, but I appreciate the distinct experience that each provide.

If 13-year old Ramses saw you performing live, what would you want him to receive from the experience?

- I would want 13-year old Ramses to know, that all of the emotions he has pent up inside, don't make him any less of a "man." The ability to feel deeply is not a burden. In fact, it strengthens our ability to empathize and opens our eyes to those, who our society would cast aside.

I would hope that my performance would enforce that sentiment and set him free to be exactly who he is.

What musician, dead or alive, would you love to perform a duet with?

Click pic for RELEVANT interview!

Click pic for RELEVANT interview!

- If you ask me this question tomorrow or the day after, I'd probably have someone else in mind. But if I had to choose a musician with whom I would collaborate on a spoken word piece, it would probably be Ryan O'Neal of Sleeping at Last. Besides the fact that he's an amazing songwriter, the rich soundscapes he creates in his music are ethereal and mesmerizing.

Spencer’s Vanguard is…

- …a tapestry of conscious resistance.