Chorus A Literary Mixtape by Saul Williams

Make No Tradition of This

by Jake Wahlen


Saul Williams has always been a tremendous advocate for the arts as well as raising awareness of social injustice, which can be clearly seen in his past books of poetry written solely by him, but his piece Chorus: A Literary Mixtape (2012) was one in which he had quite a bit of help. The book was a “literary experiment” according to Williams, and involved soliciting work via social media, receiving roughly 8000 submissions, and narrowing down those submissions to a mere 100. Although these disparate sources exemplify the range of work, the final selections had an undeniable theme to them as well as a sobering beauty.

Before the title page of this conglomerate are “a few words”:

Shut up and sit down. New Age be damned if the old do not heed the voice and concerns of the young. Here are the voices of many woven into one. If each face is a book, here's a testament: the ground plan of a social network. Here are our fears, disbeliefs, visions, and wishes welded into words. Here is our love, our desires, sprung from the incessant chatterbox of our adolescence. Here is the voice of the undead and the uncompromised. Make no tradition of this. We have had enough.

This precursor, stern and raw as it seems, proves to have been putting lightly what the poems wailed from the pages. Williams has proved his ability in the field of poetry as well as many other art forms (music, theater, writing, etc…) , but he has proven his eye in an editorial aspect with poetry through this impressive and powerful collection.

Throughout the varying poems that maintain the same relevance in the overall counter-culture motif, Williams highlights words and phrases throughout the entirety of the book, forging his own spin on a found-content poem. Through using the words of others, Williams’ voice from past poetic publication shines through absolutely in this ploy of writing; this too is most likely assisted by the like-mindedness of the brilliant poet and the solicited group. The topics are unapologetic, romantic politically and religiously charged, and most of all, thunderous the cries of a living generation dealt a bad hand by their predecessors and demanding control.  

Williams stitches together, using his own poetic voice throughout, the multiple voices of poets having been forcibly made to confront today’s world, and want the same as him. This generation of poets has had enough and is harsh in letting the reader know this. This world needs collections like this one as well as poets like Williams, and for them to be widely acknowledged. Chorus: A Literary Mixtape is a testament to a large and growing part of the population seeking justice for and control of their futures; a powerful piece to call for action as well as to warn the living past to move out of its way.


Chorus: A Literary Mixtape is available now on Amazon and iTunes.