The first Awful Good Writers course of the summer features one of the most recognized names in spoken word: Rudy Francisco. As a National Underground Poetry Slam Champion and an Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, Francisco is also often recognized through his appearances on TV One’s Verses and Flow and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Awful Good Writers (AGW) sat down with Francisco on Instagram Live for a conversation about his work and his course, and he shared an inside look at the person behind the poet. Check out the full video or read on for excerpts from the conversation.
Rudy Francisco says he was raised to believe anything is possible through the hard work of his parents and their encouragement.
“My mother was just like ‘Since you’re here in America and you have so many opportunities, you should be taking advantage of those as much as possible,’” he remembers. “She always told me ‘No matter what, anything is within your reach. Anything is within your grasp.’”
However, despite being one of the most recognized names in spoken word poetry, performing has not always come easy for Francisco, particularly as he struggled with a speech impediment growing up.
“I still stutter every now and then, but when I was younger I had a really bad speech impediment. Part of it was just because I was nervous in front of crowds,” he says. “Even being somebody who speaks in public now, it’s such a surprise for anyone who knew me around 2007, but it was something I just had to work on and work through.”
“The best way to find out is to sit down and write, learn some of the tools, and see how far your work can actually go. The voice is such an important thing … it is currency. It’s worth something, so learning how to use it is important.”– Rudy Francisco
It may surprise some that a seasoned performer like Rudy Francisco would have stage fright, but he revealed that he still makes a conscious effort to overcome his fears prior to every performance.
“Every time I’m about to get on stage I’m absolutely nervous, my hands are shaking, my voice is shaking,” Rudy explains. “Typically what I try to do is find a quiet corner, I close my eyes, I breathe. I try to remind myself there’s nothing I’m going to do in the next couple of minutes that’s going to completely change the way this performance goes. I just have to trust myself that I’ve done the work.”
Francisco’s mission for Your Voice Is Currency, his third workshop with AGW, is to offer a select range of concepts that are not often explored in the spoken word community. The underlying theme of the course is about the recognition that our voices have value.
“I feel like people sometimes don’t understand how much their voice is worth. We think about some of the people we admire and say ‘We can never be that,’ but a lot of the times the people we admire are just people who decided to make their work public,” says Francisco.
“The best way to find out is to sit down and write, learn some of the tools, and see how far your work can actually go. The voice is such an important thing … it is currency. It’s worth something, so learning how to use it is important.”
Through his four-week course, Francisco will cover a range of additional topics, including how to implement form in an innovate way on the page and insights into compiling a manuscript for publishing. He says these topics throughout his course will benefit any writers looking to further their skills, from entry-level writers, to intermediate and even advanced
Rudy Francisco: Your Voice Is Currency will be held live on Mondays at 3PM PST, starting July 12 and running through August 2. Students will have exclusive access to Q&A, coaching/feedback for writing and performance, and private discussion groups. Students are welcome to join at any time; all classes are recorded and available for viewing up to one month after the class end.