Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Rudy Francisco's "Sons"

Rudy Francisco constantly blows my mind. He is my favorite poet by a long shot. Rudy is an incredibly talented spoken-word poet who has been active since 2009. He won the National Underground Poetry Slam in 2009 and the Individual World Poetry Slam in 2010. After being born and raised in San Diego, Rudy completed a B.A. in Psychology and went on to get his M.A. in Organizational Studies. Many of his poems challenge the status quo and stimulate conversation about social justice topics, such as race, gender, and class.

One of my favorite poems is called “Sons.” Rudy Francisco teamed up with Terisa Siagatonu to create a narrative critiquing rape culture and how it is affecting the future generations to come. I ask that you now watch the performance of “Sons” before I discuss it further.

Wow, right? It’s a pretty powerful and eloquent poem. At every line that rises to a crescendo I get goose bumps. This spoken word by Francisco and Siagatonu criticizes the fact that children at this day in age are being taught fallacies about rape, gender, and responsibility when we are not looking.

Rape culture is the worst kind of teacher our kids are learning the most from.”

This is one of the most important lines of the poem because it is spelling it out in plain English what is going on in our society. We wonder “where do they get that from?” but we need to look at ourselves and the environment. This poem has been presented to make us think about how and why rape culture is still present today. It is presented to think about why the media portrays cases about rape, as illustrated at the beginning of the poem, are projected the way that they are.

“They said nothing of the cemetery growing inside the body of the girl. Nothing of the graveyard where she would bury her trust in men.”

Why are we mourning the futures of the men that have raped, when we should be thinking about the women who have been raped? I know that a lot of us at this university don’t agree with the tabloids, but many people find that to be their only source for such cases and information. When information is shown this way in the media, many people do not think twice of it. They agree a woman is “asking for it” or “must have led them on.”

“It’s moments like these verdicts that make me numb to my own anger, Afraid to even talk about this out loud.”

This poem is important because it stimulates a hard conversation. A conversation that people don’t often want to have, or stir in their seat when brought up. If we don’t talk about these topics, nothing is ever going to change. Rudy Francisco wants to make his listener uncomfortable because it helps one think outside of the box. He uses his words to create new words, and thoughts, and feelings in his listener.

In my opinion, Rudy Francisco is one of the most intelligent Creatives of this time. Gardner states that Creatives exude 4 characteristics: (1) creative in a domain, (2) regularly exhibit creativity, (3) devising of new questions, and (4) accepted in a particular culture (p. 32-36). Francisco is creative in his domain of poetry, not only in his words, but also in his passion and delivery. He is also regularly creative, having published three books of poetry over the past three years and frequently producing and posting new content on his Tumblr. Additionally, this poem alone shows how Rudy Francisco devises new questions and challenges old ones. He does not settle for the status quo; he settles for what is right. Finally, he is one of the most popular and widely recognized slam poets of the time. His works resonate with a large population and is praised for it.

I encourage you all to think hard about this poem. To see points he and Siagatonu are making and take them to heart. Do not fear hard topics; push them, challenge them, and recognize them for what they are. I’ve attached the transcript if you’re interested in reading it verbatim. Please, start conversations. This is why the poem is present. Rudy Francisco is my favorite poet. I hope that he becomes one of yours too.

Works Cited:
Gardner, H. Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen through the Lives of Freud,

Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi. New York: Basic, 2011. Print.


  1. Thanks for sharing 'Sons'! I am a big fan of spoken word poetry and will definitely be listening to more of Rudy Francisco in the future. I was particularly struck the the line at the end that reads 'sobbing on the witness stand.' The poem instantly reminded me of a book I read last year called "The Price of Silence" (William Cohan) that looks at how 2006 Duke lacrosse team rape allegations at first were simply overlooked, saying that 'boys will be boys.' Francisco is clearly a creative who applies himself to biting social commentary - his analysis of rape culture demonstrates how far we have to go as a culture in prioritizing providing support to rape victims.

  2. Wow, this was jarring and powerful. I really appreciate how the poem recognizes the need to put the blame on both the boys who are raping and the society that is teaching them that raping is okay. I loved the last line "apologizing for what the have yet to learn."

    I do think that Francisco shows many of the characteristics of "little c creative," with the potential to transform this work into Big C with taking the work into social action. I believe that he is challenging paradigms and has the ability to take it to that next level. I am definitely interested in reading and listening to more of Francisco's work!

  3. I've listened to a lot of slam poetry that talks about social problems and rape/sexual assault, and this is the first one I've ever heard that addressed the humanity of the boys and men raised in a rape culture while still demanding they be held accountable for their actions. As someone who studies sociology and how greater systems play a role in individual lives, I really appreciate that Francisco acknowledged how complex the issue is and why it's so important that we address it now. I'll definitely be looking more into his other work!

    1. I 100% agree! One of my other (of many) favorite parts of this poem that I didn't discuss in the post was this one:

      "I’ll be damned if I stood here and said that I only have the capacity
      to love someone who’s only been at the edge of the knife
      At the barrel of the gun
      and not have enough love to go around for the one who’s holding the weapon."

      It is so important to understand what present rapists are being raised to understand within society. Of course, none of this is an excuse; it's a context. It is important to know that rape culture is not only teaching victims that "they were asking for it," but also teaching rapists that there is nothing wrong with their actions. It's a complex issue, but we need to know how to help and fix those people who are also the rapists, not just the victims. We need to teach more about consent so that people don't misunderstand one another. We need to be able to fix those who were broken enough to rape, not "break them harder,"as the poem states in regards to jail sentences.

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  5. I think it's awesome that you wrote about this because I was just brainstorming what my next blogpost would be about, and was playing with the ideas of both rape culture and slam poetry. And BAM! You put those two things together in an informative way. I think spoken word is one of the most powerful art forms for social action, and definitely agree with Judy. This guy has to great potential to become a Big C creative real quick.


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