Rating: 5 Stars
In the last few years, spoken word poetry has taken the literary community by storm. This popular genre of performance-based poetry is written to be performed aloud, and is spoken at events and readings. Now more than ever, people are reading, listening to, and reciting contemporary poetry that exists in our society, as well as creating their own. In addition, poetry slams have become more popular, and these spoken word performers draw in thousands of people. One poet in particular, Rudy Francisco, captivates his readers with every performance. Most recently however, he has put his words back onto the page and released a new poetry collection titled “Helium.”
Francisco rose in popularity after postings of his performances on Button Poetry’s Facebook and Youtube pages. ”Helium” is his fourth book of poetry, while others include “Getting Stitches,” “Scratch” and “No Gravity.”
His most recent collection covers topics on a wide array of subjects, ranging from race and family, to love and relationships. Francisco’s free-verse modern language reflects and coincides with the spoken word poetry he performs in front of live audiences.
The book is broken down into four sections that are labeled by roman numerals. In the first section, there are 17 poems that are unique in style and form. His first poem in the collection, “Water,” discusses and describes a personal story from his childhood. Lines such as, “My arms became two skinny brown flailing distress signals,” use creative diction and phrasing to create imagery that the reader can experience. His use of description and figurative language add another dimension to the poems; each poem included in the collection brings a new and strong aspect to the work as a whole.
His poem “Complainers” is one of his best known works, and is often performed in contests and at readings. It sheds light on the things that humans take for granted, especially here in America. In this line,“Most people have no idea that tragedy and silence often have the same exact address,” Francisco conveys the idea to readers that the everyday things people complain about often hold very little importance.
The book is sold in soft-back, and includes a colorful, smooth cover. On the front of the book, the title “Helium” is displayed in lowercase letters under a person being lifted up to the stars by a blue balloon. It reflects the magical and emotional aspect of poetry that is expressed in the collection. Although this collection includes 58 poems, the book is fairly short and condensed. Francisco included many short-length poems that are separated by balloon illustrations or section dividers. It is an easy read that has something in it for everyone.
Francisco is currently touring in Canada and the U.S., and performing with other local poets in each area. He classifies his poetry as both a mixture of activism and art. Francisco often tells his audience that he hopes to stir change through his writing. By writing about controversial and sometimes political topics, he gets people talking. “Helium” is a wonderfully eloquent collection of poetry that will be talked about in the literary community for years to come.