Alex Puckett performed for the first time at an open mic when he was 17 years old.
Now three years later, he is set to perform for Nikki Giovanni at a private reception following her speech at the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts on Feb. 20.
“I am definitely excited,” Puckett said, as he smiled from below the brim of his cap, “It’s not every day you get to perform for a poet like Nikki Giovanni.”
“An Evening with Nikki Giovanni: Poetry, Emotional Knowledge” will occur on Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts. Giovanni, an influential poet and figure of the Black American community, is speaking next as part of the SPSCC Artist and Lecture Series. According to her website, Giovanni’s focus is on “the power of one has to make a difference” and is “committed to the fight for civil rights and equality.” This ties into the Artist and Lecture Series’ goal to address contemporary issues from different perspectives.
Puckett cited Giovanni as one of the poets who have influenced him the most. “She is not afraid to let the crowd hear what she has to say,” said Puckett. He said he hopes to move people with his own words in the same way as Giovanni.
“I like to let people hear what I have to say and to know that every word I say means something,” said Puckett. He plans to perform an original work called “1,000 Words”. The piece is exactly 1,000 words and details how African Americans have advanced the music industry.
“I only remember being really nervous that first time three years ago, but only for a brief second,” Puckett said, “Then I just stopped being nervous and started believing in what I was saying.”
He described the feeling of when he performs as “being in the zone,” and how it’s just him and his words, making it impossible to forget them. “I know what I write down,” said Puckett, “What I write down impacted my life and it’s not just something I would forget.”
He talked about the most definitive moment in his life of when he first started to write. “Before poetry, before rap, I didn’t know where my life was headed or what I could do,” said Puckett, “This is a gift and I want to use it to my advantage for the future.”
However, poetry has not always been easy for Puckett. When he first started, he had trouble getting his emotions on paper due to his contradicting image of what a man was supposed to be. Mainly, that they weren’t supposed to show what they were feeling. But now, poetry has changed that image for Puckett. He feels that it is acceptable and even encouraged now for him to express himself artistically.
“When I spit a flow that expresses every emotion I’ve been through, I don’t get boos,” Puckett paused as he searched for his words, “I get people telling me to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Amongst his biggest supporters is his family, who he describes as “the most interesting people you have ever met.” He draws inspiration from his family, and in return they encourage him to pursue his goal of changing the world.