When asked about the nature of his relationship with The Simple Good, Chicago poet and performer Harold Green III described it as an organic collaboration. One of Green’s peers, Cam Be, an Emmy award-winning filmmaker, introduced Green to The Simple Good and forged a partnership through their shared goal of mentoring and inspiring underserved youth through art and positivity. “Us collaborating and me being on that stage July 29 just made sense,” Green says.
When asked to share his “simple good,” Green said this:
The “simple good” to me is sharing my art. I think sometimes we forget how important sharing becomes. As humans in the digital age with the mass consumption and saturation of information — oversharing sometimes — I think we forget how human it is to share true and genuine sentiments that you can actually connect to and say, ‘Oh, somebody else feels like me.’ That’s the simple good, but you can’t necessarily put a quantifier on that.
As a person who frequently experiences the stifling effects of writer’s block, when I recently sat down to interview the prolific Green — for reference, in 2013 he challenged himself to write a poem every single day — I had to know how he finds inspiration to keep creating.
“I’m actually constantly inspired. I know it sounds cliche but in the 14 years that I’ve taken my craft seriously, I’ve never run into a serious writer’s block.”
The more I talked to Green, the more I realized that this was true. Green has presented his poems during a TEDx event in Chicago and at Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s inauguration in 2015. He finds time to put on quarterly art collectives called “Flowers for The Living” while also mentoring students who “become like sons to him.” He just doesn’t have the time to be creatively stifled. Green’s many titles include playwright, actor, and rapper — but on July 29, when he performs at The Simple Good’s City of Big Dreams Fundraiser, he’ll be reprising his foremost role as a spoken word poet.
Green’s relationship with poetry spans back decades. The creative gene runs in the family it seems; Green’s father wrote poems for him and his sister. Green recalls primarily being interested in rap when he was younger but after watching HBO’s Def Poetry Slam, his creativity manifested in a different medium. Green wanted to pursue poetry after seeing artists like Mos Def and Black Ice demand attention on stage with their words. “These guys made me feel like a black boy from Englewood with a certain vernacular and a certain way of speaking could carve space out. That to me was inspiring.”
It would be a mistake to pidgeon-hole Green as a “Chicago” artist. The themes in his poetry are more universal and far-reaching. His prose touches on family, identity, growing up, belonging, not belonging. While Green’s creative voice is informed and enhanced by his roots in Chicago, his ultimate goal is to be an artist that people can relate to globally.
“These guys made me feel like a black boy from Englewood with a certain vernacular and a certain way of speaking could carve space out. That to me was inspiring.”
“I would love, as an artist, if the world knew that I took my craft so seriously and spread love across the globe, not just Chicago.” Green uses his identity as an African-American man from the Southside of Chicago as a vehicle to speak for and uplift a group of margianilized people while simultaneously pushing through that identifier to speak truth into the world.
To see Harold Green III and a slew of other talented artists, musicians, rappers and poets perform, be sure to get tickets to The Simple Good’s City of Big Dreams on July 29.