By Michael Solender
Poet, word-artist and community builder Boris “Bluz” Rogers wants others to know he’s in love with his city.
Rogers, who’s represented Charlotte in venues as varied as national poetry slam competitions and corporate recruiting videos, says when he’s asked to represent the city, it’s important to him that his work is honest and genuine and speaks to the heart of Charlotte.
“I want to create work that uplifts people when they hear and see it and they take pride in where they live and who they are,” he said. “People sometimes forget that Charlotte is a really cool town.”
Rogers outsized-talent allows him to seamlessly navigate between roles of unconventional artist and performer to community advocate, educator and city spokesperson.
He’s worked with Blumenthal Performing Arts to host Slam Charlotte and Breakin’ Convention, led and facilitated workshops as part of ASC’s Connect with Culture Days, represented Charlotte as Poet Delegate at the All-America City Awards and created poetry for Opera Carolina’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.
“Being able to take words, shape them and put them in places where they don’t necessarily belong allows me to create a sound visual for people who may not be able to experience or get a perspective from someone else’s walk of life,” he said.
Rogers is ubiquitous around the QC. He’s hosted CIAA Fan Fest, done voice-overs for the Carolina Panthers and Raycom Sports and performed for audiences at the Foundation For The Carolinas Anniversary Luncheon and the Jazzy Holiday Gala at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture at Levine Center for the Arts.
He’s a three-time National Poetry Slam Champion, a six-time Poetry in Motion Award winner, a Southern Poetry Slam Grand Slam Champion and winner of both Telly and Emmy awards.
Rogers is as energized today about his work and connecting with the community as when he launched his career more than a decade ago.
“I knew other word artists who burn-out after a while,” said Rogers. “I love what I do and love the opportunities I have. Every day is exciting, I’m learning to learn. Research is a big part of my work and returning that to my audiences is exciting.”
Rogers has ambitious plans for his 2019 ASC Creative Renewal Fellowship.
“I want to explore cities that have some of the dopest poets in the country, see how they impact their communities and how they work with other artists,” said Rogers.
Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Austin, Washington D.C. and possibly Cuba are all on the list of places he hopes to visit.
He also looks to attend workshops at The Watering Hole in South Carolina, Callaloo in Chapel Hill and the annual Cave Canem retreat at the University of Pittsburgh for reinvigoration and inspiration.
Rogers also plans to meet with and learn from poets, authors and teachers such as Mo Browne, Shihan Van Clief, Clint Smith and colleague and friend, Dr. Dorian Rogers in Abu Dhabi – each widely respected word artisans.
“Traveling and witnessing my peers, colleagues, and heroes operating in their greatness is inspiring,” said Rogers. “It reminds me of the levels I can achieve.”