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ISSUE 121 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/7/2008

Gemineye performs poetry in the Pause

By Kirstin Fawcett
Copy Editor

Friday, March 7, 2008

It's only fitting that spoken-word artist Gemineye would be named after a dual-natured astrological sign. By day, Gemineye is Christopher Kuretich, a mild-mannered resident life employee at New Jersey's Montclair State University. But when night falls, Kuretich sheds his administrative-drone disguise to reveal alter-ego Gemineye, a poet whose impassioned performance and blistering rhymes cemented him as New Jersey's "Grand Slam Champion" of slam poetry in 2002.

Most recently, Gemineye has garnered buzz through frequent appearances on HBO's Def Jam Poetry Series. Nevertheless, despite having recited his work for star-studded audiences including P. Diddy, Russell Simmons and Ludacris, Gemineye was happy to share his lyrical reflections on life, love and loneliness with St. Olaf students last Thursday night.

Invited by Emily Holm '08, a member of the Student Activities Committee, Gemineye came to campus on Feb. 28 to perform a free show for St. Olaf and Carleton students. At 8 p.m. last Thursday, the poet swaggered onto the Pause main stage and received a lukewarm welcome from a sparse crowd of students. Gemineye remained nonplussed, jokingly asking the audience, "Hey, can you guys spread out in here a little?" as his eyes visibly panned empty rows of chairs.

Gemineye took advantage of his thin crowd by using it to foster an intimate atmosphere. After cracking several jokes about the cold Minnesota weather, Gemineye addressed the audience directly, invoking them to actively participate in his performance: "You do not have to be library quiet. That **** makes me nervous," he grinned, eliciting murmured laughter from the 50-odd students present. "If I say your favorite word in a sentence, you can let us all know. I'm from New York. I don't do quiet."

Gemineye was also open to interactive dialogue, urging spectators to ask him questions during or after his set while he signed autographs and sold copies of his debut CD, Eye've Arrived.

True to form, Gemineye recalled past St. Olaf spoken word performers such as Saul Williams by abruptly shifting his banter into the recitation of the night's first poem. "Most of my poems don't have titles," he explained after applause had faded. "This one I call the wipe the dust off' poem, because it lets everyone know why I'm here." Gemineye's introductory verses, in which he described himself as a "man and a pen with a God complex," chronicled his quest to heal the world through prosaic insight.

Gemineye soon launched into his second untitled poem, which explained to the audience his purpose for pursuing poetry. Churning lines such as "There is not a human being whose mind I'm not capable of freeing / There isn't a blind person who I'm not capable of leading into the light of the seeing," Gemineye suggested his desire to liberate the human mind with words.

Gemimeye proceeded to segue into his so-called "political" poem by arousing discussion about the upcoming 2008 presidential elections. "How many of you caucused this year?" he inquired, extracting applause from politically active Oles. Gemineye's poem, which compared the power of his words to gusts of winds that would hopefully "blow George Bush back across Texas," resulted in piercing catcalls and whistles from present Democrats.

Gemineye's third poem chronicled the futility of gang wars, which he felt inspired to write after witnessing student violence at high schools and colleges across New Jersey. Called "What are you fighting for," the poem deemed gang aggression as an ineffectual way to preserve power. Its closing lines were eerily poignant, warning hoodlums of the consequences they face. Instead of controlling cities by winning "turf," cautioned Gemineye, the "only concrete blocks they'd ever own/are the ones that come with steel bars/or the ones [called] tombstones."

Attempting to break the crowd's somber silence, Gemineye switched gears by introducing romantic works simplistically dubbed "the love poem" and "the erotic poem." The two poems, addressed to a woman whom Gemineye found "irresistible and insatiable," described acts of physical desire that left some blushing and others cheering out loud. Gemineye was quick, though, to make a non-sexual point with his "erotic" rhymes: The following poem told the story of a fictitious man's suicide attempt after contracting AIDS from a one-night stand.

Despite Gemineye's penchant for portraying grim subject matters, his second-to-last poem, "Trouble Doesn't Last Always," was a plea for hope. Lines such as "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone / I can see the coming light as day breaks with dawn" described Gemineye's struggles with sorrow. "I like to read this one to crowds," Gemineye told the crowd. "It lets others know that they're not alone."

Sensing that the hour was almost up, Gemineye wrapped up his performance with "Penny for Your Thoughts." A YouTube favorite that has received over 139,000 views since May 2007, it is a whimsical look at a man enchanted with his girlfriend's brains, not body. Following "Penny," Gemineye unceremoniously stepped down from the microphone and personally greeted individual members of the crowd -- proving that quality, not quantity, is what makes a good audience.

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