Won the Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Slam and New York Knicks Poetry Slam.

By Charity Shumway

A Poet in Motion

When Adelphi freshman Justin Long-Moton performs, it is hard to imagine him as anything other than a slam poet. His voice and gestures bring an irresistible dynamism to his words, and his poetry and personal charisma seem like two halves of a whole.

In fact, his prowess as a slam poet has already taken him far. In 2010, Mr. Long-Moton won both the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam and the 2010 New York Knicks Poetry Slam.

A Bronx, New York, native, Mr. Long-Moton was also named the 2010–2011 New York CityYouth Poet Laureate and was awarded the 2011 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Key award.But this past fall, with the release of his first book of poems, Manual (Penmanship Books, 2011), Mr. Long-Moton has taken on a new challenge: written poetry.

“There’s a big difference between stage poetry and page poetry,” Mr. Long-Moton says. “On the stage, they’re just hearing you, and it doesn’t matter in terms of line breaks or structure. When there is no voice, just the words on the page, it’s a whole different piece. You have to chisel at it. It’s made me a stronger writer.”

In connection with the publication of Manual, Mr. Long-Moton has read selected poems at The Cooper Union, New York University, the TED Youth Conference and Adelphi, among other venues.

While Mr. Long-Moton continues to perform his work, the publication process has changed his outlook. “I have a lot of series poems,” he says. “I have poems that coincide with each other. I didn’t realize it until I started getting feedback on the book, but it’s creative storytelling.”

With that in mind, Mr. Long-Moton plans to try his hand at other genres. He says, “I want to try to get into playwriting and screenwriting and see how that goes. If I’m already working on creative storytelling, why not dabble in that?” He signed up for the Introduction to Creative Writing course in his spring semester so that he could expand his repertoire.

“I think I could create some good stories,” says Mr. Long-Moton, with a mix of excitement and humility. “It’s worth a try.”

In the beginning there was me. Face chiseled marble and an earthen screech that peeled paint from walls. My arrival mysterious as the Big Bang was sudden. An unexpected surge of gust, cracking windows into runways of light and we flew in. skies cargo, a nine month delivery made right on schedule. Touched down on the most miserable day of the week—Monday, hates its reflection. it is the 1st work day, rush hour traffic, a migraine lingering from Friday night’s cocktails and shimmy. A stoic July rendered me intrusive. Held in the burrows of my mother’s arms, i imagine her gazing down in reverie, eyes wide in awe that this life had blossomed inside her, believing her body was unworthy of such miracles. This is all speculation, the mind’s theory on origin. Another un-photographed genesis—no one wanted memories. When envisioning my first breath i see: pale infant citizen to two realms, this one and the ghostly, he is crying with a wrench clutched in his fist.

From Justin Long-Moton’s Manual
(Penmanship Publishing Group, 2011)

This piece appeared in the Adelphi University Magazine Spring 2012 edition.

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