Jovi Radtke’s “Spoken Word” Speaks For ItselfJovi  Radtke

By Abbi Novotny

"For the times when the music dies, I want you to take my Violin arms and play all the words you want to say but can’t, here’s your chance. Hold this music box of truth to your ears to prove that words hold more harmonies than harm to me and enhance the music for us to dance to."

Picket signs, chants, sit-ins, marches, and organized rallies are some of the typical weapons of an activist. Combine these with the power of the pen and the rhythm of lyrical poetry and out steps Jovi Radtke. Although Radtke has been writing since she was nine years old many people from Sacramento will recognize her from the numerous Equality Action Now rallies held at the State Capitol since the passage of Prop 8. She comes armed with a microphone, a voice that refuses to be silent, lyrical truths that cannot be denied and a fist pump that is set to annihilate intolerance and hatred.

Jovi is originally a Texas native but moved to Sacramento when she was 16 years old and has never looked back. “I started writing songs when I was nine years old,” she said. “Music has always been my biggest outlet. I was always the new kid and I moved around a lot so music has been the one solid familiarity in my life.”Jovi4

"I want to breathe sand inside your tropical Bongo hands the way gulls do. I want to sleep inside the sunset right next to you. And when the rising bright horizon showers light over our starry beach haze, I want to climb inside you because that’s where Harmonicas play."

According to Spoken Oak, a web site devoted to telling the story and history of the spoken arts, Spoken Word is a term adopted by academia (college circles) in the early 80s to recognize a wave of new word-based performance art that came springing out of the Postmodern Art Movement.

Marc Kelley Smith and Joe Kraynak authors of Take the Mic “The Art of Performance” said that the rebirth of Spoken Word began during the 1950s and 60s. “In the 1950s and 60s the beatniks and hippies rekindled interest in spoken word poetry by reacting to the icy political restrictions of the Cold War era,” they said.

“Although the movement surrounding spoken word is relatively new,” according to Smith and Kraynak. “Spoken word has been around for thousands of years.” “It is more than just an entertaining show; it’s a global/literary movement fueled by the passions and energies of thousands of organizers, poets and audience members,” they said.

"And in the distance, I can hear the clever sound of persistent Sirens echoing far off cliffs of possible, resonating in the vibrant peaks speaking for me in a chorus for us to breathe shallow Cymbals as our allowance to finally swim, hand in hand, to this symphony playing Promise Land."

Radtke embraces that energy of the those spoken word artist that have gone before her as she delivers line after line of rhythm and prose to challenge, excite and move the audience to action.


“Writing is a way of life for me,” she said. “Things that I can’t process or articulate in day to day life I can make complete sense of in a poem.”

Radtke writes everyday and carries a pad and pen with her everywhere. She enjoys the freedom of writing spoken word and believes that her words are so powerful because she has the ability to go outside of the norms with her words.

“I can say whatever I want in a spoken word because the world of poetry doesn’t have the blocks and barriers that society places on us,” she said.

"And when your arms grow tired, jump into the Cello sound of the open mouthed ocean and through the tough tides, I’ll guide you. And in the tougher times, I’ll find you. In the same waves that crash around us, surround us like the Brass section of a band and still, I’ll never let go of your hand."

Spoken word has the power to move and Jovi has seen this first hand. She recently shared a spoken word at an event for the homeless and was amazed at the response she received from the homeless community. “I wrote this spoken word from a homeless perspective and then I realized that the majority of people in the audience were homeless and I was concerned that I did not do them justice,” she said. “After the poem I received several hugs and thank-you's from the homeless community,” she said. “They told me that these were their words.”Jovi1

Radtke said that this has been her most powerful experience of what her spoken words can do for people. She hopes that as people listen to her at rallies or events that they gain a new or broader perspective on issues that affect them.

Radtke’s next performance will be for Equality Action Now’s Harvey Milk Day events on May 19 at the Crest Theater in Downtown Sacramento and May 22, at a Rally in front of the California State Capitol Building. Jovi is especially inspired and in awe of Harvey Milk and sees him as an equality icon for the LGBTQI community. “The fact that he has a day named after him is a huge win in our struggle for equality,” she said.

Through it all, Radtke hopes that her words can continue to ignite and fuel the passion of young activists on Harvey Milk Day and she encourages them not to give up the fight for equality. “The other side will never stop fighting to strip us of our rights,” she said. "We must continue to do the groundwork that Harvey Milk and others like him laid for us."

"I know that somewhere before us there’s a body of land in store for us, forcing me to understand the back and forth but let the rocking rock you forward, toward safe in a way to where the tide’s lullaby only sings hymns of comfort and we can both finally say, 'just let the music play.' - 'Pleading Beethoven’s Fifth'"

Abbi Novotny is a political activist, writer and sports enthusiast. She currently resides in Sacramento with her Partner, son and two dogs. Jovi will be performing during Equality Action Now’s Harvey Milk Day celebrations at the Crest Theater May 19, 2010 and at the Harvey Milk Day Rally and March at the State Capitol May 22, 2010. For more information: www.EqualityActionNow.org

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