Click Selection

Search News Releases:

News Resources
on the Web

26 February 2008
Black History Month Event
Coffee House Featuring Former NFL Star
and Poet Travis Watkins Feb. 26

In recognition of Black History Month, SGA has scheduled a Coffee House program featuring Former NFL star and poet Travis Watkins as Host at the Theron Montgomery Building Auditorium Tuesday evening, February 26 beginning at 7 o'clock.

As a 6 foot 4-inch, 300 pound former Division 1 football star, Travis Watkins doesn't seem to fit the image of a stereotypical Spoken Word Poet.  Yet as the winner of the coveted National College Language Association Award for poetry, and a top 8 National Poetry Slam Ranking, it's clear that Travis isn't concerned with images and stereotypes.

Travis spent 4 years as a starter and 2 year team captain of the University of Kansas football team, where he was honored as a finalist for the District V Academic All-American Team, before graduating with honors in U.S. History and African American Studies in 2005.  While attending K.U., Travis also managed to find time to volunteer as a mentor to "at-risk" youth at VanGo Mobile Arts, while making a name for himself as a dynamic up and coming performance poet.

Travis won his university's monthly Poetry Slam for a year straight before being retired and given hosting duties his senior year.  As host of K.U.'s Poetry Slam, Travis shared the stage with Def Poetry Jam Poets Jason Carney and Helena D. Lewis, and in 05' the scholar-athlete turned poet was honored with the College Language Association's national award for poetry.

After graduating, Travis was accepted into the highly selective Teach For America program, committing 2 years to teaching in our country's most poverty ridden inner-city schools.  While teaching high school U.S. History in Houston TX., Travis began a meteoric rise in the world of contemporary Slam Poetry by leading his team to the semifinals at the 2006 National Poetry Slam, and making it to the Individual Final Stage finishing 8th out of over 350 poets at his first official National Slam Competition.

Travis now ranks as one of the top young poetic talents in the nation and is touring the globe as a performance poet and motivational speaker.  Travis incases his touching personal stories and insightful socially conscious views into a powerful display of poetry unlike any you've ever seen.  You may have read poetry, you may have heard poetry, but you've never truly "experienced" poetry until you've witnessed Travis Watkins live.

Source from which passages are cited:  Samples of Watkins' video poetry are also accessible on this Website.

In the words of Warren J. Carson, Ph.D., Chair, Margaret Walker Memorial Prizes in Creative Writing, College Language Association--upon awarding the 1st place award to Watkins:

Travis Watkins's poetry is simply captivating! His insights are timely and provocative and are encased in a refreshing masculine tenderness. What a tremendous celebration of young black manhood!

Maryemma Graham, Ph.D, and Founder, Langston Hughes National Poetry Project, critiqued Watkins as follows:

If poets are born and not made, then Travis Watkins is among them. His voice is deliberate, definitive and fearless -- he wants to make waves. But most of all, he confirms what it means to be a generation born in the aftermath of civil rights, who must find their way to a new kind of social commitment in their own language; this means necessarily breaking the rules, taking real poetic license.

Source from which passages are cited:  Travis Watkins, now a teacher in Houston, recites his poems during workshops referred to as poetry slams. Travis Watkins has been observed reciting each line in his original work “My Word” forcefully and quickly, and suddenly his tone changes in the poem about racism.

“When tolerance is silent, hate is what’s heard,” said Watkins, a 2005 Kansas University graduate and former Jayhawk defensive lineman.

After several more lines rolled off his tongue, he slowed again.

“Find truth for yourself, don’t just take my word,” he said.

According to Watkins, “Poetry is really sharing your soul with people.”

Source from which passages are cited:

Submit items for news releases by using the request form at