The Laugh – Zena on Def Poetry

Found this by chance. I thought I’d lost this piece of footage as Def Poetry had taken it down…

In 2002, I got a phone call from my then  poetry agent, 57 Productions, that they’d got a call from Def Poetry. I was so fresh into my working career as a poet that I didn’t feel ready for such a big show – I mean, I was going to New York to stand on that renowned stage where the likes of the Last Poets, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Sundiata Sekou, Jill Scott and Smokey Robinson had performed!
I’d never had TV make -up before and it was caked on. (I get it now). Plus the hustle and bustle back stage was a madness – poets reciting their lines loudly, painting shapes in the air, gesticulating  with that american gusto that scared a lil UK poet who was just feeling her feet in the  spoken word world. It was intimidating to say the least. But what poet from the African diaspora would turn down such a great opportunity. This mainstream outlet was, still is, the home of contemporary  of Black Poetry. Another landmark experience….

I performed a poem called The Laugh. It has had many incarnations since and has become a bit of an anthem.  This was it at its most fetal. I think I held my own…. 🙂
Plus it was kinda cool to have host Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) say, “Yeeeeeah, you was throwin’ it doooown…”.  “Thanks.” I squeaked. Nice moment.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Ruth says:

    Wow, what a poem…..I can see those ladies laughing in their summer hats with real flowers….beautiful flowers and real laughter…thank you for the experience 🙂

    1. Zena says:

      Apologies, Ruth, for the slow reply.
      Thanks for saying so. It is much appreciated.
      Have a great week!
      Z 🙂

      1. Ruth says:

        I love the way you express it, you are gifted with a good voice…….keep performing please…. I could listen for hours….

      2. Zena says:

        Thank you 🙂 *brown-skinned blush*

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