Captivating college crowds across the nation, Brandon Thornton brought his spoken words on life, love and everything in between to MSUM for an event highlighting Martin Luther King Jr.
Starting out in the open mic scene back in 2007, Thornton who goes by “The Explicit Poet” began his journey into poetry while staying in St. Louis. While studying mathematics in graduate school, the math teacher discovered that his passion for poetry was more than just a hobby. He left graduate school and pursued poetry as a full time job.
Thornton now travels throughout the United States, winning over college crowds with his humor and insightful poetry. From poems on chivalry not being dead to the price of a bachelor’s degree being higher than the price to live, Thornton intrigued the audience with his spoken words.
“The highest achievement for me as a writer is anyone that is moved by my poetry,” Thornton said. “I had a woman come up to me after one of my shows once and tell me that I brought poetry back to life for her, that’s a high achievement to me.”
Thornton creates a comfort level with the crowd before going into reciting his poems. He began the event with an icebreaker, having the crowd sing along to the opening song to the 90’s hit show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” The students slowly joined in and were blurting out the lyrics with laughs by the end.
“I like a lot of interaction at my events or when I perform,” Thornton said. “It helps to not only create a comfort level, but it shows me what they know and like to hear about also.”
Thornton has been performing at open mic events since he was doing his undergrad work and has performed at over 100 colleges across the nation. Some of his poems for the night discussed finances, equality, respect for woman, family and his favorite topic, relationships.
“It’s the man’s role to take responsibility for his actions when it comes to woman,” Thornton commented, “I like writing about all the aspects of a relationship, the parts that everyone can relate to. I constantly have men coming up to me after my shows saying ‘I can relate to that poem’ or ‘I’ve been through that,’ I attempt to touch on every feature.”
Thornton dedicated the last 20 minutes of his event to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a slide show presentation and reading excerpts from some of his essays. He went on to talk about the civil rights movement and the importance of how Dr. King practiced the nonviolence principal.
“He is such an inspirational man and critical thinker,” Thornton said. “We need more critical thinkers.”
Thornton stressed the importance of that time for not only African Americans but every ethnicity across the nation.
“You’re asking these people to put themselves on the line for people,” Thornton said, “it is a beautiful thing to see but can you imagine it, someone asking you to not retaliate at all as someone is spitting, cursing and beating you?”
Thornton closed the event by reading a benediction for Dr. King, tying family into the equation and finally recited a poem he wrote a few years ago for his mother. After the event, he stayed and met with students, who praised his poetry that mixed humor with inspiration.
“If I could describe my poetry in one word I would say, galvanizing,” Thornton said, “I like to stimulate minds and inspire people. If I could give any poet advice, it would be to write what your passionate about and to never stop writing.”
The event was put on by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and was co-sponsored by the Dragon Entertainment Group.
The next event held will highlight Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Titled “Dr. King’s Dream,” it will be held on Thursday at 5 p.m. in Weld auditorium.
PHOTO AND STORY BY JANAE BOSWELL