SISTA CYPHA Presents:Ursula Rucker: Bringin' the Ruckus
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Insightful, and hypnotic - Ursula Rucker the fierce Philly poet is a walking testament to the art form. Many have become captivated and even enthralled with Ursula’s mystical presence and relevant messages intertwined through out her poetry. Sit back, relax and let your spiritual eye open to the words of Ursula Rucker.
Ursula Rucker: poet, songstress
Tachelle Wilkes: poet, journalist, teacher
Tachelle Wilkes: Who is Ursula Rucker?
Ursula Rucker: A Virgo, a mama, a poet, always a woman...sometimes a lady, a wife, an imperfect human being trying to transcend the bullshit.
TW: How do you describe your sound?
UR: I guess you mean the sound of my poetry with music. Well, the sound of my voice is pretty consistent, but the types of music are always changing. It's hard to package the two and describe it as one sound. I just do what feels good...stay open and let the words travel how and where they need to go. Is that vague enough for you?
TW: What do you want your listeners to see behind your words?
UR: I hope that most who experience my poetry feel the honesty, love, integrity...and know that poetry is my life, not some fad...I mean the shit I say, is from the heart and the gut.
TW: What do you want them to feel?
UR: Oops, I think I answered that above...didn't see this question coming.
TW: When did you first find your poetic soul?
UR: Nice way to put it. I was writing at a very young age...but, I didn't feel that fire until I was in college...a light bulb went off, and I knew I was a poet for life.
TW: Give us a glimpse of your past. Share a moment where you had an epiphany that enabled you to become the Ursula Rucker of today.
UR: I always knew I was meant to be an artist of some sort. I didn't have one great revelation, it was more gradual. I guess I did have sort of a defining moment, though. Major Jackson...met him in an elevator at Temple U...he was a Virgo too, a dark-skinned brother who wasn't afraid to wear pink...and he was a poet. We became friends...he shared his work with me...self published a book with another Temple goer, Wadud Ahmad. I went to their book release/signing at a jazz club called Zanzibar Blue...it was cool. There were poets and musicians...words, music, good shit. I went home excited, inspired. It would be right there in that same room at the Zanzibar Blue some years later...that I first shared my poetry with musical accompaniment...yup, Major Jackson unknowingly gave me that little nudge.
TW: Tell us about the soul of Philly - so many gifted artists hail from Philly. What makes Philly a soul capital and how is Philly bred in your art?
UR: The most popular and hardest question to answer. Philly is the only place I've ever lived. I'm sure it's all up, in and through my art. But hard to explain just how, you know? What I usually say is...Philly ain't no New York or L.A. It's a big city...but it's a small town too...blue collar. There's a feeling of shit-don't-come-easy-you-gotta-work-for-it...here. I think that comes through in the art that's born here...it's perfected, it has to be. If Philly loves you and what you do...then you can rest assured you've done something right.
TW: What inspires or summons you to write?
UR: Being alive and aware. If the heart is still beating and the eyes are still open...there's plenty to write about.
TW: Is there a difference between a poet and a spoken word artist in your eyes?
UR: Okay...let's see how I can put this. In my opinion, "poet" is an age old word describing/naming one who practices an age old craft/art. "Spoken word artist" is taking a not-so-new term, spoken word, and attaching it to the word, artist, for the purpose of giving definition to the current "fad" of poetry as it is orally and publicly shared/performed. Folks think they're doing something new...being a "spoken word artist"...it's been done before...there's just a revised catch phrase for it now. But these folks, these "spoken word artists"...are they poets? Do they live, breathe, love the word whether it is written or spoken? Are they committed to the art form...or addicted to the spotlight? For me, to be described as simply a "spoken word artist" is limiting, insulting even. And although I often duck labels, titles, brands...whenever possible...I claim >poet as a major part of my identity...not just a description.
TW: Tell us about your journey from Supa Sista to Silver or Lead.
What lead you?
UR: It was a rough two years...the roughest of my life. I am ready to step up to the next level now...take things higher now that I've come through that fire.
TW: What musical and literary authorities do you cherish?
UR: The usual suspects...musically...vintage Prince, Heatwave up front...many others running close seconds. Literary goddesses include Sonia Sanchez, Zora Neale Hurston...I'm looking forward to adding to the list though, when I find the time to read more often.
TW: Where has your gift of poetry taken you and who are some other people that you have worked with in the past?
UR: This gift, this blessing has taken me to places, tangible and intangible, that I'd never dreamed of going. I've traveled the world, met all sort of folk and my life is so enriched. But poetry is just like any other love, it frustrates me as much as it makes me happy.
TW: Once you finish performing what are some of the things that you see in your audience’s eyes?
UR: I usually keep my eyes closed...but, I like to speak with people after...and that's where you get the real reaction. At moments that I do make eye contact though...I see everything from "wow" to "huh"?
TW: Where do you want to be in seven years?
UR: Alive...and able to watch and aid my children in their growing.
TW: Thank you so much for your time and words.
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