In this powerful slam performance, award-winning poet George Yamazawa recounts his earliest memories of teasing classmates by calling them “gay,” and the reaction he got from his Buddhist father. In rhythmic verse, Yamazawa talks about the power of words as insults and poetry, and the love that Buddhism inspires.
“I forgot that the voice does the work of the Buddha. So why would I ever call someone gay before calling them beautiful?”
Yamazawa, is the youngest-ever winter of the National Poetry Slam Championship. According to PBS Newshour, Yamazawa started rapping when he was 12 and performing slam poetry in high school, but this poem, titled “Elementary,” marks the first time he has discussed his spirituality.
“I was finally ready to come out and say, this is who I am, this is why I believe the things that I believe,” Yamzawa told NPR. “[It] was a beautiful moment to be able to confidently share that.”