George Watsky
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George Watsky

Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Band Spoken Word


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"Review of Def Poetry Season 6 DVD"

[...] Then there´s someone like George Watsky, [who] allows the audience to laugh uproariously over the trials and tribulations of nerd sex. Or the lack thereof, as is the case here. A combination of the subject matter and Watsky´s pale slender body, not to mention his zeal for the information, makes him endearing, allowing us to see why he is a sensation at home. -

"Vulgar, crass, hilarious"

On Thursday night the Sun Dome was transformed into a bastion of comedy. Peals of laughter echoed off the walls as thousands of USF students enjoyed the hilarity of three stellar comedians [Pablo Francisco, Stephen Lynch, and Eddie Griffin], each of whom was introduced by a poet whose talent belied the tenderness of his years. Free pizza and soda were provided outside Gate 1 to ensure that hunger and thirst would pry no one from his seat during such a memorable performance.

The Stampede Comedy Show was one of the highlights of the Homecoming festivities. George Watsky served as master of ceremonies. Attendees left the show without any doubts about why Watsky won the Youth Speaks Grand Poetry Slam in 2006. His spoken-word style was delivered with brass and confidence, in a tone that reminds one of a smack-off contestant on Jim Rome's sports talk show.

Watsky isn't afraid to address topics like social inequality and politics, but his strength is in his sense of humor. His monologue on being a high school virgin had the audience in stitches.

He goes on fast-paced rants packed with conventional and slant rhymes, then slows down, lowers his register and hits you with a hook that resonates in your memory. In a speech that blends revulsion for insincere politicians and drunken Cassanovas, he quips: "It's checkup time. After all, half of all Americans are living at, or below, the pick-up line."

Watsky's resumé boasts searing wit, strong stage presence and a volume of poetry, all at the age of 20. [...] - University of South Florida Oracle

"Saul Williams"

my homie josh... george...he said that digital binary...shakespeare shit...that was fucking brilliant - uttered at Brandeis University

"22,835 Gather for Greenbuild Conference"

" [...] Green building, Fedrizzi said, is proving to other industries "that you can go green and not only survive, but thrive." Fedrizzi was the first to speak Wednesday morning, his comments kicking off a two-hour pep talk that not only inspired the audience to its feet, but saw the launch of several key initiatives in both commercial and residential sectors, culminating with a keynote speech from former president Bill Clinton.

But there was no greater proof that the green movement is firmly planted in our futures than when 21-year-old George Watsky took the stage and gave a powerful, passionate recitation. "I don't think I have the words to explain fog to my children," Watsky said in a poem that lamented our environmental future while challenging the world the "carry the one" to make the necessary changes. [...]" -

"Watsky Perfection at teen poetry slam"

A SOLD-OUT War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco witnessed America's fastest growing spoken word movement Saturday night in the form of the Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam Grand Slam Finals, a competition of 18 Bay Area poets.

With a perfect score, 19-year-old George Watsky of San Francisco topped the competition. Five other winners also will go on to compete in Brave New Voices, a national competition held in April in New York. They are Dominique Jones, 19, of Berkeley, Meilani Clay, 18, of Hayward, and 17-year-olds Shannon Matesky and Terry Taplin of Berkeley and Laurie Magers of Union City.

Watsky attacked politicians and their "pickup lines" in his first poem: "Do you want a pizza and a war? What -- you don't like pizza?" and saying "(Forget) a one-night stand, we've got a president lookin' for four years of lovin.'"

He dedicated his second poem to "all the people that remained virgins in high school, whether by choice or circumstance," referencing TV nerds such as "Screech" Powers from "Saved By the Bell," Carlton Banks from "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and Steve Urkel from "Family Matters," prompting audience members to jump to their feet and raise their hands in a "V" symbol to show support.

More than 3,200 people filled the Opera House's three floors and cheered on the participants. Eight of the 18 poets performed two pieces before the final six were selected. - Oakland Tribune

"Local poets lift voices at nationals"

For the six Bay Area teens headed to New York for what amounts to the world championship of slam poetry, the perfect ending to what will be a long week would be performing before a packed house at the famed Apollo Theater.

The Bay Area team, one of the largest and oldest in the competition, is no slouch when it comes to enthralling an audience, but it will have its work cut out for it competing against poets from 40 cities in "Brave New Voices, the International Youth Poetry Slam Festival."

The festival is co-sponsored by San Francisco's Youth Speaks, and the local team goes into the five-day competition Tuesday with a strong reputation. Youth Speaks started 10 years ago and has exceeded everyone's expectations.
Spoken-word performances have struck a chord with an entire generation of teens looking for a way to express themselves in a world where their opinions sometimes play second fiddle to those of adults, and, like the teens, they have matured over the years.

"It's a different scene now than when we started, because the kids have each other as role models," said James Kass, founder and executive director of Youth Speaks. "But it's more than just writing, it's an entire generation of youth culture looking to express itself, and the writing has attracted them from all walks of life. No matter their grades or the neighborhoods they come from, they can all use words."

They sure can. Take, for example, this passage from "Pickup Line Protest," by George Watsky of San Francisco, who could be called the team's captain:

I couldn't help but wonder who'd elect this guy.
Then it hit me. Think back to every ad campaign, inner-city baby-kissing politician visit, each fake debate, each missile missive, each broken man, each token mandate spoken, every candidate in history and campaign slogan.
A chicken in every pot,
Leave no child behind.
Hook and sinker, this is a stickup crime.
Politicians go fishing for votes and toss us the pickup line.

Granted, that would have more power heard in a slam, where the rhythm of the vocal delivery -- which often mirrors that of hip-hop music -- is at least as important as what's being said. But it gives you an idea of what the kids have to say.

And like a hip-hop concert, poetry slams often draw huge crowds. The Bay Area Grand Slam finals drew more than 3,200 people to the San Francisco Opera House last month, and 500 people were turned away at the door.

The competition, where poets are judged on their poems and their delivery, drew 19 finalists culled from 600 or so who competed in preliminary rounds held over six weeks at 15 Bay Area high schools. When the talking was over, six of them landed on the team that will go to New York.

It's no surprise that Watsky, who at 19 is the Bay Area's reigning teen champion, is on the team. He has won nearly a dozen slams and was on the team that took fourth place in the national contest last year. He's also lined up a publisher for "The Undisputed Backtalk Champion," his first book of poetry.

On the team, he's joined by Terry Taplin and Shannon Matesky, a pair of 17-year-olds from Berkeley; Laurie Magers, 17, of Union City; Dominique Jones, 19, of Vallejo; and 18-year-old Meilani Clay of Hayward.
The Bay Area team goes in with high expectations, but, like the NCAA basketball championship, there are always surprises. - San Francisco Chronicle

"6 From Youth Speaks win N.Y. Poetry Slam"

Six Bay Area teenagers wrote, rhymed and performed their way to victory at the unofficial championship of slam poetry in New York, outlasting 41 other teams that included 400 kids from across the country in a five-day battle of verse.
The sold-out competition, called "Brave New Voices, the International Youth Poetry Slam Festival," wrapped up Saturday night at Harlem's Apollo Theater, with the Bay Area group facing teams from New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and Providence, R.I.
The Bay Area poets -- George Watsky, 19, of San Francisco; Dominique Jones, 19, of Vallejo; Meilani Clay, 18, of Hayward; Laurie Magers, 17, of Union City; and two 17-year-olds from Berkeley, Terry Taplin and Shannon Matesky -- belong to San Francisco's Youth Speaks, a 10-year-old group. - San Francisco Chronicle

"Adam Mansbach"

“…his poems sweat their way to twelve-round winning decisions and rack up first-round knockouts and pop volumes of smack at post-fight press conferences.” - author of "Angry Black White Boy or the Miscegenation of Macon Detornay"

"Jeff Chang"

“George Watsky is a wonderful word-spinner, worldy far beyond his years and possessed of a careful touch—a young poet to keep your ears on” - author of "Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation" and co-founder of Quannum Re

"Marc Bamuthi Joseph"

“George Watsky nimbly navigates the minefield between the oral aesthetic and the written word with forceful, humble, original, and incisive commentary. He bravely allows himself to fall through the gaping holes in our race and class structures, and yet he never falls down without getting back up with an intelligent turn of phrase or sparkling image to guide our collective journey forward.” - National Poetry Slam Champion and creator of "Word Becomes Flesh"


Undisputed Backtalk Champion Book and CD (First Word Press 2006)

Invisible Inc. (Def Star 2007)



George Watsky is a writer and performer who believes in the equal power of the tear and the belly laugh. Born and raised in San Francisco and now based in Boston, Watsky aims to cross-pollinate the stage, screen and stereo with work that speaks to both the humor and frustrations of modern life.

Watsky was featured on Season 6 of 'Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry' on HBO, and has since toured colleges across the country while completing his own undergrad degree at Emerson College. He was the 2006 Youth Speaks Grand Slam Poetry Champion, 2006 Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam Champion, and performed in a record six consecutive Youth Speaks Grand Slam Finals. The last three of those audiences, all topping out at over 3,000, were the largest ever for poetry slams anywhere in the world. In 2009 Watsky was one of three poets who performed live on FOX at the NAACP Image Awards in honor of Russell Simmons’ lifetime achievement award.

Watsky has made strides to bring his poetic sensibilities to the theater world. His one-man show 'So Many Levels' has been presented in Boston, San Francisco, Vermont, and at the Hip Hop Theater Festival Critical Breaks series in New York City. He has also been featured at the San Francisco and Washington, DC arms of the Hip Hop Theater Festival. He played the title character and co-wrote a 2004 adaptation of 'Dante’s Divine Comedy' for the Living Word Festival and his stage play 'Harold’s Fall or King Will' is the recipient of the 2009 Rod Parker Playwriting Fellowship.

Taking it to the page and stereo, George’s debut poetry collection and CD, 'Undisputed Backtalk Champion,' was published by First Word Press in 2006. Edited by novelist Adam Mansbach, the book is currently in its fourth printing.

An honorary graduate of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership in Melbourne, Watsky has emerged as part of a vanguard of artists involved in the sustainability movement. The inaugural Speak Green winner for poetry on climate change, Watsky was twice invited by Robert Redford to perform in Sundance, Utah. He served as host of Green Mic in San Jose, California and of the culminating concert of Powershift 2007 in Washington DC, and performed at Rock the Debate in Oxford, Mississippi, prior to 2008’s first Presidental debate. His work has brought him to the opening plenary of Green Cities 2008 in Sydney, Australia, and Greenbuild Chicago, where he took the stage immediately before President Bill Clinton.

George has performed at conferences and universities in more than half the states in the US, and two in Australia, appearing at some of the nation’s most notable venues, including the Apollo Theater, the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, the San Francisco Opera House and the Shrine Auditorium. He has shared billing with, among others, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt and Mohammed Ali.

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