LCFC Journal #5: “Section.80 & Poetry: The Definition of Rap”

15 Nov



The Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst, Queens

To everyone reading this, if you know me well enough, then you know how much hip-hop means to me. You know what it means as not only a culture, but as a musical art form that influences the way in which young African-American men such as myself, live out our daily lives. For the past few months, I have been fortunate enough to run poetry workshops for teens at the Pan American hotel in East Elmhurst, Queens. These workshops have been running twice a month within the same week.

On September 12th, I remember conducting my first session at the hotel with a group of teens.

As they came into the room and sat down, I passed around photo copies of stapled poems by Tupac Shakur from his sole poetry collection in The Rose That Grew From Concrete. After introducing myself to the students and having them do the same for me in return, I wasted no time and explained the purpose of the session.

Needless to say, they were a little taken aback that we would be starting off the sessions by studying Tupac Shakur.

“Tupac? That’s like my favorite artist,” said one teen, excitedly. “He wrote poetry as well?”

“Yeah, he did, actually,” I replied, smiling. “And we’re going to delve into some of it today.”

Without wasting time, we critically began reading Tupac’s work while offering comments and thoughts along the way. At first, many of the students were shy, but overtime, they each opened up and grew comfortable in vocally sharing their thoughts about the readings and enjoyed the presence of fellow workshop participants.

Since that first initial meeting, my students and I have looked at the work of hip-hop musician, Kendrick Lamar. The albums we’ve studied are good kid M.A.A.D City and Section.80. In terms of the latter half, I remember during our second session where we talked about the penitentiary as well as human purpose.

As we read and discussed the album, I remember feeling a sense of humility and elation within the moment as the students were really breaking down and annotating everything that spoke to them within the pieces. It made me feel really good about my skills as a teacher. Most importantly, it gave me this euphoric moment that made me say, “Wow, they get it! They really get it! And I think they like it too!”

Since then, I’ve come to realize that nothing makes me more happy than a group of kids being truly enamored and invested into literature as well as reading at large. Going forward, as I continue to pursue my path as an educator, I can only hope that I will experience more moments of euphoria in which students will be truly intrigued and excited about literature. And what’s to stop them  from being this way? Whether it be on a grade school or college level? Especially when they realize that the head person in class was just like them and in some ways still is. The passionate feeling I get when professing and proclaiming the written word is kind of like visiting Toys R’ Us or a candy store for the very first time. You just don’t know where to start.



– Kevin Anglade






One Response to “LCFC Journal #5: “Section.80 & Poetry: The Definition of Rap””

  1. Kevin Anglade November 15, 2016 at 5:21 pm #


    In his fifth blog post of the LCFC series, writer and poet, Kevin Anglade talks about his work facilitating rap/poetry workshops for underprivileged teens at the Pan Am Hotel in Elmhurst, Queens. Read all about it in the new entry below.

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