Poetry and Conversations: Javon Johnson and Rudy Francisco
Johnson and Francisco are two of the most recognized names in contemporary spoken-word poetry. With multiple television appearances, national and international tours, countless Grand Slam titles, nine National Poetry Slam Final appearances between them, and three national titles, Johnson and Francisco are highly sought-after poets who use the stage to entertain and educate and to challenge and clarify.
Merging race and gender theory with comedy, lyricism and rhyme schemes, Javon Johnson has become a highly awarded spoken-word/slam poet. The Los Angeles Times writes, “From subject matter, to wordplay to delivery, he is working it out! It’s hard not to have good times while watching him have a good time on stage.” Johnson began writing in 2001, winning slam nationals in 2003 and 2004. In 2005 he placed third, one of a handful of poets to make the finals three years in a row, and second in 2013. He has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, BET’s Lyric Café and TV One’s Verses and Flow. An Emmy Award NAACP Image Award nominee, Johnson co-wrote the documentary Crossover, which aired on Showtime,” in collaboration with the NBA and Nike. He is a featured blogger for the Huffington Post and has served on the Board of Say Word, a Los Angeles organization that mentors teenagers and promotes creative self-expression through spoken-word poetry. Having served as a postdoctoral fellow at University of Southern California’s American Studies and Ethnicity Department, as well as being program manager of history at the California African American Museum, Johnson is an assistant professor of performance and communication studies at SF State. He received his Ph.D. in performance studies from Northwestern University.
Born, raised and still residing in San Diego, Rudy Francisco is an amalgamation of social critique, introspection, honesty and humor. He uses personal narratives to discuss the politics of race, class, gender and religion while simultaneously pinpointing and reinforcing the interconnected nature of human existence. Francisco has shared stages with prominent artists such as Gladys Knight, Jordin Sparks, Musiq Soul Child, and Jill Scott. He is also co-host of the largest poetry venue in San Diego, competes in domestic and international poetry slam competitions and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Ultimately, Francisco’s goal is to continue to assist others in harnessing their creativity while cultivating his own. He is the 2009 National Underground Poetry Slam Champion, 2010 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and appeared on TV One’s Verses and Flow.