This fall, we’re hosting the second biennial Newark High School Poetry Festival. Groups of students from every public high school in Newark will be coming together at Rutgers-Newark’s Paul Robeson Center for a day of poetry readings, conversations, and performance workshops. khalil murrell is one of the poets who will be joining Newark students for this exciting event.
Have you ever written anything you were afraid to share?
At least half of the things I write I’m afraid to share, but I share them anyway. Part of my draw to poetry emerged from attempting to push past my discomfort, to explore the things that made me afraid.
What was your experience with poetry in high school? If you wrote poetry as a teenager, what did you write about?
I actually began writing poetry in college. I saw this movie named Love Jones (1997), a love story that centered around two lovers who met in a speakeasy. Both of the main characters recited a poem, “Brotha to the Night” (Regie Gibson) and “I Am Looking at Music” (Sonia Sanchez). I remember hearing “Brotha to the Night,” thinking, “Man, I want to do something like that.” Later, I started performing at various spoken word venues around Philly.
Do you have a favorite spot in Newark? A park, restaurant, open mic venue, etc.?
I usually watch the NCAA tournament and NBA playoffs at Burger Walla on my block. I like the trash talking and the wings.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading two books by my favorite author, Kiese Laymon–a book of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: A Remembrance, and his recent memoir, Heavy.