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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: The Domino Project (November 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612182798
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612182797
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A Q&A with Sarah Kay

Question: How old were you when you started writing poetry?

Sarah Kay: I’ve been making poems since I could string words together. Before I knew how to write, I used to follow my mother around the house and yell, "Poem!" until she found a pen and paper to write down my dictation. I think that’s why she taught me how to write early on, so I would stop making her do it for me.

Question: Are your parents poets? Did they influence your interest in poetry?

Sarah Kay: From kindergarten through fourth grade I brought my lunch to school with me every day. And every day for those five years, one of my parents wrote me a poem and tucked it in my lunchbox. It was usually on a colored piece of paper, folded in half. They were short poems that were sort of Dr. Seuss-y or Shel Silverstein-esque. They made poetry something to look forward to. Each note was a story, a message, a secret, a rhyme; each note made me stop whatever I was doing and surrender to the surprise inside. I don’t think either one of them considers themselves poets, but they definitely gave me a hunger (wink!) for poetry.

Question: Did you always perform your poetry?

Sarah Kay: Absolutely not. All of my early poetry was strictly journal poetry. I had terrible stage fright and never wanted to be in the spotlight. It wasn’t until I was 14 that I discovered Spoken Word Poetry at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. I was adopted by a wonderful community of poets and even though my stage fright didn’t disappear, the reward of being part of such an amazing group of people was enough to drown out the fear.

Question: What did your mother say when she first heard your poem, "B"?

Sarah Kay: I had a really hard time writing that poem. When I finally finished it, I called my mother on the phone from my freshman dorm at college and read the entire thing to her. I was really emotional by the end of it. When I finished the last line, I waited to hear what she would say. After a long pause she said, "That’s nice, Missy. Can you read me the beginning again? I think I heard a grammatical error." That’s why I love her. She’s very practical.

Question: What’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to you on stage?

Sarah Kay: I travel around the country performing and teaching Spoken Word Poetry in schools with Phil Kaye and Project V.O.I.C.E. It’s exhausting and exhilarating, and I count my blessings every day that I get to do what I do. A lot of really cool things happen on stage. The coolest? A couple of years ago we performed at a middle school in Southern California. It was the first time we had ever performed there and it was the first time anyone in the school had ever seen Spoken Word. We were nervous about it, because it was a pretty conservative school, but everyone really enjoyed themselves. The next year, we were invited back to the same school. Halfway through our performance, we asked if anybody in the audience had a poem they wanted to share and a little boy came bolting up onto the stage. He didn’t even raise his hand. When he got up there he said, "I wrote this poem the day after you left last year. I’ve been waiting all year for a chance to perform it for you." That was the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me on stage. Second place would probably be getting a standing ovation at the TED conference. Although at the time I didn’t think it was cool. I was just freaking out. I was worried that the audience was clapping for too long and was terrified that they were taking up too much time. TED is very strict about time limits. I was convinced I would be pulled off stage.

Question: Who is Sophia Janowitz? And why illustrations?

Sarah Kay: Sophia Janowitz is my oldest friend. When we were three months old, we had our first playdate in the park in our neighborhood. We’ve been friends ever since. When we were little, we used to make art projects together. I would tell Sophia stories and Sophia would make amazing art out of whatever random material was around. When we graduated college, we moved into an apartment together in Brooklyn and returned to our childhood practice of project-making. When I decided to make "B" into a book, I wanted it to be more than just a transcript of the poem. I really wanted it to be its own object, with its own personality. I knew Sophia was the woman for the job. Thank goodness she said yes.

Question: Last question. What color rain boots do you have?

Sarah Kay: My last pair was black with white polka dots. My mother found them for me at one of the stores at Union Square in New York City. But they have sprung a few leaks. Maybe I need a new pair.


About the Author

Plenty of 14-year-old girls write poetry. But few hide under the bar of the famous Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan’s East Village absorbing the talents of New York’s most exciting poets. Sarah Kay also had the guts to take its stage and hold her own against performers at least a decade her senior. Her talent for weaving words into poignant, funny, and powerful performances haunts the heart. Now 23, Kay is a successful Spoken Word poet and educator, who co-directs Project V.O.I.C.E. (Vocal Outreach Into Creative Expression). Founded by Kay in 2004, Project V.O.I.C.E. encourages people to use Spoken Word poetry as a tool for personal and world understanding, and a medium for vital expression.

More About the Author

Plenty of 14-year-old girls write poetry. But few hide under the bar of the famous Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan's East Village absorbing the talents of New York's most exciting poets. Sarah Kay also had the guts to take its stage and hold her own against performers at least a decade her senior. Her talent for weaving words into poignant, funny, and powerful performances haunts the heart. She was a featured poet on HBO's "Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry Jam" in 2006, and that year she was also the youngest poet to compete in the National Poetry Slam. Since then, Kay has shared her poetry on six of the seven continents. She is perhaps best known for her talk at the 2011 TED conference, which garnered two standing ovations and has been seen over three million times online. Kay holds a Masters Degree in The Art of Teaching from Brown University and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Grinnell College. Her first book, "B" was ranked #1 Poetry Book on Amazon. Her second book, "No Matter the Wreckage" is a collection of poetry from the first decade of her career, released March 18, 2014. Other poems and articles have been published in Pear Noir!, the Literary Bohemian, DecomP, Damselfly Press, Union Station Magazine, Foundling Review, the Huffington Post, CNN.com, among others. Kay is also a successful educator, who co-directs Project VOICE (Vocal Outreach Into Creative Expression). Founded by Kay in 2004, Project VOICE encourages people to use spoken word poetry as a tool for personal and world understanding, and a medium for vital expression.

www.kaysarahsera.com
www.project-voice.net

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Customer Reviews

Beautiful words, beautiful illustrations.
langpierce
All this from one small poem that can be read or listened to in minutes.
Cynthia Hudson
Gave it to my wife and daughter recently as a gift.....they loved it!!!
Kevin Bissonnette

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Paul Mordetsky on November 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Sarah Kay's performance of "B" during her 2011 TedTalk brought down the house. I wasn't there, but, having watched the video any number of times, I have been consisently thrilled by her poetry, presence, and exuberant energy. This is a video I have shared via links with many people over the past year.

But ... I am a man with a heart rooted in "page poetry", and videos are not books, and videos make poor gifts for dear friends. So, how overjoyed was I to discover that a book version was in the making and would soon be published by Seth Grodin's Domino Project? Quite!

After a year of design and production, "B" has hit the shelves (somewhere, Amazon has shelves). Sarah Kay and her illustrator friend, Sophia Janowitz have put together a beautiful slim tome filled with Ms. Janowitz's charming drawings flowing around Ms. Kay's eloquent words.

Check out the TedTalk video above, read the interview with Ms. Kay. Then, knowing that the shortest point between Point A (you) and Point B (the book) is a straight line, go straight to the "add to cart" button and hit it.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By C. O. Aptowicz on November 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
When poet Sarah Kay took the TED2011 stage, she began her TED Talk with the poem that is the sole focus on this illustrated book. At the conclusion of the poem's performance, the audience gave her a standing ovation (one of two she would earn for her talk!) and it's easy to see why. "B" is a letter from the poet to a future daughter, but in its beauty & thoughtfulness, it is also a celebration of what it is to be a woman: to be a mother and a daughter.

In explaining how she would mother her own daughter, Kay gives insight to everything she has learned in her life -- both on her own and from her mother. "Getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way / to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air." she explains in one section; "There's nothing more beautiful than the way / the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, / no matter how many times it's swept away," she offers in another. Kay is a storyteller who isn't afraid to make you laugh or smile, but is absolutely committed to being honest, to sincerity and authenticity. It makes for a fresh work, one that begs to be revisited -- which may explain why the talk has earned 1 million+ hits on the TED Talks website and another 500,000+ hits on YouTube (and surely growing).

After Kay's talk went viral and poetry lovers discovered both her & her work (numerous poems of hers appear on YouTube, earning her hundreds of thousands of hits), I am sure they went looking for print versions of her poetry. And there wasn't any -- until now. And I hope "B" is just the first in a series of books that the publisher, The Domino Project, will put out of Kay's work -- having just one poem available isn't enough!

Still, it's an absolutely worthy effort.
Read more ›
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Chris Rose on November 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Give this lovely little book to any parent in your life who is trying to instill the values of self-love, adventurousness and intelligent defiance in their children.
Give this book to any parent who questions themselves all too often, even when they are one of the best parents you know.
Give this book to any parent who needs a little reassurance that their love is more than enough.

Watch the video of Sarah Kay performing her poem, think about the first 3 parents that come to mind, and buy a little gift for each of them.

This is one of those tiny little books that will open hearts, bring language to long-felt emotions, and inspire more love to be experienced.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mark Robson on December 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Like others writing here, I love written poetry. But I never "got" spoken word poetry. I never understood the concept of poetry slams. And, to be perfectly honest, I find poetry readings to be pretty dry affairs. However, I think Seth Godin is a genius. When I received the e-mail announcing that "B" would be the first (and sadly, last) book of poetry published by the Domino Project, I wondered what all the fuss was about, and then went to view the video of Sarah Kay at TED2011. Completely blown away. I immediately came to Amazon to order a copy to give to my wife, with the idea that she would read it to our daughters.

The poem itself is actually fairly straight-forward (not meant in any sort of demeaning way). The images, while fresh, do not startle or challenge. The appeal of the poem to me is in its tone, which is one of defiant openness to the beauty of experience and the fierce need to maintain that openness in the face of the sadness that life can bring. There is no apology here for what cynics would call naivete', no hesitation in forcefully promoting compassion and love and mindfulness as a legitimate, even necessary, way of facing the challenges of life. This is a message that I often hear my wife communicating to my girls in various ways, and I am so grateful that this beautiful little book has come into being so that she can now transmit this deep, powerful, and necessary wisdom through the medium of Ms Kay's words.

In the other poem ("Hiroshima") Ms Kay performed during her TED talk, she says "When I was born, my Mum says I looked around the whole hospital room with a stare that said, 'This? I've done this before.'" Indeed. The imperative communicated in "B" was the last thing released into the world by Pandora, and watching Ms Kay perform her poem feels like watching someone channeling an ancient wisdom. Namaste, bodhisattva, and thanks to the Domino Project for giving us the chance to share this.
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