by Ellen C Warren
Did you see that poet biking down the streets of Riverwest? The one that made you laugh about fried chicken at last year’s Riverwest Follies. The one that you might not have recognized since he’s left nearly fifty pounds behind in the last several months due to his bike and a passion for it that equals his passion for poetry. That’s Kavon Jones, or Kj Prodigy, or “just Kj.”
But he is never “just” Kj! With a voice that can go from whisper to boom at the speed of a cheeto arching across a room, his poetry gets you thinking, laughing and crying in an equally short span of time and distance.
There is ample reason he is winning awards, receiving honors and being invited to speak and teach. At twenty-one years of age he is one formidable poet! “I like to make sure that my written words are just as powerful as my spoken words,” he says. This may be true, but to hear him is truly a gift. For a tasty sample watch his performance of “Friiied Chickennnnn” at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center. e=youtu.be
He’s not hard to find on the internet. What he’s tucked under his proverbial tightened belt at such a tender age is beyond impressive. After a couple years of “freelance” readings his first major spot was at Woodland Pattern for the ACLU Banned Books show, the day before his nineteenth birthday. “It was really, really, really fun,” emotes Kj. He read for Waxfest at the former Cocoon Room, made his appearance at the S.M. Performing Arts Center, and did a forty-five minute set with musicians at the Cactus Club. Poet’s Monday featured him for his twenty-first birthday in 2015, also his premier time there due to age restrictions. Kavon hosted the poetry open mic at the all-ages Miramar “for a couple years.”
Kj began to find his poetic voice after he experienced two poets, Kwabena Nixon (who he met years later!) and Muhibb Dyer in the seventh grade at Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Elementary. At Riverside High School his life was altered as a member of Hy-Poetically Speaking, Miss Gulbronson’s Poetry Club.
“I remember a lot of my mentors,” he says. And he is already realizing that relationship from the other side. Kavon has had wonderful, enriching experiences leading poetry workshops with students at Escuela Vieau and Blessed Savior as well as being a First Stage Teacher Apprentice. “One of my passions… is working with kids,” he explains. “You get to make an impact. They’ll remember you.”
The ACLU awarded Kj their Youth Award for 2015. He poetry-facilitates the Youth Social Justice Forum for them.
Kj just finished up his run with Quasimondo as a cast member in “The Children of Pac-Men.” His self-scribed monologue detailed the life of a character who ate way too many cheeto puffs while under the spell of gaming and eventually exploded into “copious microcosms of the crisp orange arches.” Look for him in future theatre performances.