Brandan Stuckey

Poet Brandan Stuckey.

Written by Dana Jaffe   Photo by Beau Gustafson

Brandan Stuckey describes himself as a naturally shy person who likes to sit back and observe and would rather quietly people watch than start a conversation with a stranger. But when the 28-year-old walks on stage, takes command of the mic and becomes “BStuc ThaPoet,” he is the antithesis of  that —a brash, charismatic, expressive master of spoken word who thrives on crowd interaction and audience approval to get his adrenaline flowing.

Spoken word, which predates written poetry and the printing press, started around the time of The Iliad as way for people to express themselves and their views in front of the town folk. Stuckey has found the art form to be an outlet where he can get his thoughts off his chest with no parameters. He tackles politics, history, spirituality, relationships, love, current events and everyday experiences.

Stuckey said he doesn’t know where he would be without poetry in his life. Spoken word and poetry have led him to become a performer, an author, a nonprofit founder and, overall, find his place in the world.

“I like to push boundaries and discover what is over the next hill, and poetry allows me to do that and keeps me from being complacent,” Stuckey says. “For me, life is poetry and poetry is life. We live in a more expressive culture now, where everybody is putting their own two cents into the world and spoken word is a way that I feel I can contribute.”

Stuckey said he always knew he was destined to do something great and in front of an audience, but it took time to discover the talent that God had given him. He considers his voice—a voice that can control an entire crowd, a voice that can convey a story, a voice that moves people—his greatest gift.

After almost a decade on the spoken word scene and with more than 500 poems to his repertoire, Stuckey has found a way to immerse an audience, connect with them and evoke emotion from them. His shows are a way for him and his audience to escape the daily grind and find motivation to overcome life’s challenges.

“Poets are the voice that speak for generations of people,” Stuckey said. “Everyone has thoughts on how they feel and what they want to accomplish, but only a few of us can put those words together and cause the change that people work so hard to achieve. I use poetry to inspire everyone to be a better person tomorrow than they are today, and I like to make sure that people leave the show more knowledgeable and more informed than when they came.”

Stuckey came onto the spoken word scene in Birmingham in 2001 and quickly discovered his love for poetry. Though he was attending the University of South Alabama, where he received a degree in broadcast journalism in 2006, he often came home for weekend visits and school breaks. Whenever he was in town, he performed at The High Note, The Carver Theatre and other venues as part of the early rise of the Love Shooters poetry troupe.

He started participating in competitive poetry slams in 2002. Stuckey, who still wasn’t fully sure of his abilities, describes poetry slams as the proving ground for spoken word artists and said he used the positive reception he got on stage time after time to build the confidence to continue to conquer more microphones.

It wasn’t until 2006, when he moved to Tallahassee and became a member of the Black on Black Rhyme poetry community, that he really established himself. Performing at venues and touring the country with the group, he was constantly around talented individuals who inspired each other to keep raising the bar and by 2008 he had been booked as the main act at festivals, churches, colleges and bars.

“Joining Black on Black was one of the best things that happened to me as a poet,”  Stuckey said. “With them, I found a rich breathing ground of artists who are like family, like your brothers and sisters that inspire you. They helped me find my voice as a poet,”

A laid-back person with aggressive things to say, Stuckey found his niche by borrowing elements from both the rapid fire of the Florida spoken word scene and the go with the flow, swag-type scene in Birmingham.

Stuckey has blended the timeless effects of classic poets like Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, the beat and syncopated rhythm of musicians like Cee Lo Green and OutKast, the detail-driven storytelling of Notorious B.I.G, and the importance of delivery, perfect timing and humor of comedians like Chris Rock and Jamie Foxx to create a unique stage presence.

In 2008, he also started using his love of spoken word and poetry offstage. As a volunteer at a senior citizens home, Stuckey, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2005, said he talked one on one with many patients who had diabetes, who were all going through tough times with the disease but thought they were alone in the struggle.

At a Thanksgiving get-together at the home, Stuckey presented a spoken-word piece centered around diabetes. The impact of that experience was the initial impetus for his nonprofit, The B.S.T.U.C. (Boldly Staying Tough Under Circumstances) Foundation. The organization, which is set to kickoff in November with a poetry slam to raise money for diabetes research, will connect diabetics with one another and use poetry as a tool to talk about their emotions and experiences and to help them face the adversities that come with the plight of being a diabetic.

“When you set goals for yourself, writing them down helps you to materialize them, and verbalizing them and presenting the words out loud to people who are going through something similar helps each person find the strength to conquer their own challenges,” Stuckey said.

When Stuckey moved back to Birmingham in late 2009, he found yet another direction to take his gift and crafted a book around his spoken word pieces. The Last Words Will Be Spoken: A Journey Into the Thoughts and Rhymes of a Poetic Mind, which was released in June 2010, is his first book of spoken word.

Often spoken-word artists use video and CD recordings to share their work, but he wanted to do something different and package the spoken word experience in writing. The book compiles his pieces and provides a deeper look into how each one came about, and also has chapters that discuss the art form of spoken word itself and act as a guide to the creative process of writing spoken word.

“You always see books of poetry, but it is so rare to see spoken word captured in a literary form,” said Stuckey, who was awarded a Civilian Medal in February from the Birmingham City Council for his book.

“Right now, I’m struggling to decide if I will be an author that performs spoken word or a spoken word artist that wrote a book,” he says. “I just want to try to find a healthy balance between the two and continue to push boundaries and be successful. I just want to believe, be real, be you, be spoken, be true, BStuc.”

5 Responses to “Word”

  1. Renita says:

    As the mother of this poet I must first say how proud I am of him and his accomplishments thus far. As an avid reader I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage each of u to purchase his book. It is awesome! When I first heard my son perform I couldn’t believe that these words were being spoken and performed by him. I was in awe! I truly enjoyed the article and hope to see more articles like this about him and other artists who are natives of our great city.

    • Maxine says:

      I am extremely proud of my cousin Brandan. He found his niche and has thoroughly taken command. To purchase and read his book is highly recommended. To experience a live performance is totally awesome. I have never been able to say that I know a celebrity personally, now I can, BStucThaPoet.

  2. Floyd Garrett says:

    Great article, I love hearing about young black men expressing themselves positively through the arts. Spoken word is a great forum to hear the thoughts and feelings of young America. Brandan Stuckey appears to be a young man who has a great future in whatever he puts his talents to.

  3. Avery Bristol says:

    Dope article, dope artist! Keep growing strong homie!

  4. Latrecia says:

    Brandan is a true artist who has been blessed with the gift of poetic thought and creation. He is a highly respected and much sought after poet. This article displays his extraordinary vision and work ethic. I wish him much continued success in each of his endeavors and hopes that he continues to convey his poetry and wisdom to a wide range of audiences. Great article!

    Selma; Mobile, Alabama

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