Friday, May 02, 2014

Patrick Roche: ‘21’

The video above was all over my social media today, and I can see why. It’s a relatively simple story, but those who don’t gasp at around 50 seconds may not actually have a soul.

I love spoken word performances, as I’ve said many times before, and this one reminded me in a round about way of one I posted last year. As I said back then, telling stories is “what we do, and it’s who we are” as humans.

This video is a performance by Patrick Roche, who describes himself as a “spoken word poet from Princeton University”. He’s also a member of their Ellipses Slam Team. He graduates this year.

What struck me about this particular piece is the simplicity of the construction, using a reverse timeline to tell a (young) life story. His performance of his poem changed as the voice became younger, and that for me only reinforced the message.

As I suggested in the opening, it was around 50 seconds, when he talks about being 15, that Patrick grabbed and squeezed my heart: I can imagine any number of my friends and acquaintances in that very position. And I hurt on their behalf.

Art, at its best, makes us feel something. In my opinion, if we do feel something, then that artistic endeavour has succeeded. Patrick Roche made me feel, and that alone is enough. But holy crap, what a great job he did!

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