#Unfinished. Bosco and Kay Oh (Griot): Honesty is what makes art, art. It’s what makes the connection between artist and audience

#Unfinished. Bosco and Kay Oh (Griot): Honesty is what makes art, art. It’s what makes the connection between artist and audience

Bosco and Kay Oh were on different paths that led them in the same place: Los Angeles. With distinct backgrounds, they found that they faced similar challenges and creative visions. And so Griot was born out of the love of poetry, storytelling, and the spoken word.

Under the tagline "We Write Us", Bosco and Kay Oh write and perform about what's true and real. Truth is the only way to connect to an audience, they believe. Through simplicity and storytelling, they are bringing people closer to poetry and making their art relatable.

Griot will be performing in September at UNFINISHED, among a vibrant community of global thinkers and makers. Part festival, part talks, part art, part undefined, the UNFINISHED experience gathers 3141 participants selected from those who apply.

Read on to find out how Griot is approaching this year's theme "Silence" and what message the duo would write on a billboard in the center of Bucharest.


The Beggining of Griot

I (Bosco) was in the early stages of a short story that KO ended up helping me out on. She (KO) had just moved to LA and was finding her footing and looking for creative spaces to explore her own creative interest and she found a coffee shop called Republic of Pie that she frequented a lot. She invited me to the café one day to work on my short story and as we were there and discussing my project, she was giving me suggestions because she was an avid writer of poetry and performer of spoken word. I had a background in Forensics which is a competitive acting / oration competition in high school and had done an event called duet acting, which were scenes comprised of 2 people performing a published short story. After hearing KO’s spoken word and in considering my own love for forensics and my own love of short stories we thought it would be a great idea to try and write a piece together to perform together. Thus our first piece “I’m Almost 30” came to life. We started there and never looked back.


Relatable Poetry

What allows our poetry to be palatable is we center it in simplicity and storytelling. The focus isn’t necessarily poetry. The focus is telling the story. Poetry just happens to be the artform we use to express it and I think that’s what makes it more relatable. They’re not trying to breakdown a haiku or some complex structure. They get to hear a story that they can relate too. So in that regard , yes, I think we are bringing people closer to poetry because we often hear from people that don’t necessarily know about, or care for poetry, how inspiring /motivating our pieces have been for them.


Storytelling Techniques

KO: I would say our storytelling techniques are oral tradition (which is part of the literal meaning of the word Griot), artistic performance and written word and within those techniques, we definitely have some of the common practices of having a good guy and a bad guy. Using conflict. Making it personal. And our most common… telling the story like we are talking to someone.

Bosco: when it comes to the question of “is storytelling a learned behavior or was I born with storytelling ability”. I would say to a degree I, yes I was born with it. Another childhood nickname of mine was Hollywood. So I was always acting or performing in some way even though no one asked me to put on a show. Because of all my antics my mom put me in theater as well as into choirs. I grew up doing plays and singing and really enjoyed preforming for people and telling stories through performance. Writing my own stories came later. In middle school I wrote my first short story that I submitted to a competition and lost but it was there that I caught the writing bug. It was a combo of just my natural personality and then channeling and adding that personality into other outlets of creativity that I learned I liked, such as writing.

KO: I would have to say mine was both. A natural ability and learned. Mine came more from being put in situations where I had to perform at an early age. Such as having to stand before everybody at church and speak. Doing that week after week for years, gives you a really good idea of what’s keeping people’s attention and what isn’t.


Truth and Honesty

KO: I think truth and honesty is what makes art, art. It’s what makes the connection between artist and audience. When you are true to yourself and honest with yourself it’s very easy to recognize that same truth in others and in the world.

Bosco: I am a huge proponent of empathy. I think by being brutally honest and truthful it allows the audience to realize that their world and experiences are not solely their own. That I, as well have had similar experiences and in the audience realizing that, we automatically have a connection of shared truths.

KO: That’s how people heal.


UNFINISHED: Thoughts and Expectations

KO: I love the title of the festival because it speaks to the human experience. We are always unfinished in some way and I think that’s a great perspective to explore.

Bosco: I am most looking forward to meeting as well as learning and being inspired by all of the other speakers and artist. In looking at the line up there are persons from all spectrums of life and expertise.


How Are You Approaching This Year's Theme, “Silence”?

KO: Ironically with a lot of words and conversation, lol. Specifically in how much silence plays a roll in our communication in a positive and negative light. I think personally, silence has always been my place of introspection. I’ve done my best not to use it as a weapon (Bosco) I do! (Ko) Lol. But I also know the power silence has to speak to you. You learn so much about yourself when you’re quiet and about your surroundings. Professionally I think silence has been used as a way to enhance the story telling. (Bosco) Think of a dramatic pause. (Ko) As a practice, I think meditation has been the best form of integrating silence into my practice. And I don’t mean silence in the sense that nothing is happening, but in the sense that I am not talking.

Bosco: As far as me, I am a morning person. I do my best EVERYTHING in the morning. The reason I think that I am most productive in the morning is because no one is awake and there are no distractions In essence…. a lot of silence and quiet time for me to devote to myself or to whatever the necessary task may be. That quiet time allows for self-reflection where I often times come up with my best ideas.


Uncertain Times

KO: I think it showed how important art is to the world. Because when everything was shut down, we weren’t looking for our political views, we were reading and writing poems. We were listening to music and watching shows on social media. It was art that kept us all connected and hopeful which essentially let us know how important art work and our work is.

Bosco: I am definitely a loaner and honestly enjoy being amongst myself and am comfortable in that space. But even I, during that time recognized the importance of human connection. Not just physically but emotionally and certainly missed being with my family. It has become so apparent how so many people were negatively affected without having that physical connection and I think covid in general opened a lot of peoples eyes in regards to the importance of establishing/reestablishing actual connections with one another. Not just pseudo following or friending. We all wanted to get back out in the world and connect in actuality.


Creative Block. Have You Ever Experienced It?

Both: YES!

KO: Personally, I don’t force anything. If I am feeling blocked I will do something to relax me or I’ll watch something that will inspire or will put me in a good place and if after the shift in my mood I feel like I can go at it and write, I will. But if not I shut it down and go for it the next day.

Bosco: I agree. Forcing never works. Whenever I sit down to try to write, typically what comes out on the page I am not in love with. My best writing comes from just living. And as I am living there will be sparks of inspiration where I will literally stop whatever I am doing, take out my phone and write the word or the phrase or the idea or in some cases a full piece will just flow out. But I never like to try and force it. Even if I run into a block, I’ll set it down and then come back to it when the words flow again.


Favorite Artists

KO: as far as poets go, my favorite is Maya Angelou, but for spoken word artist I would have to go with J Ivy and Saul Williams and Shihan.

Bosco: I would say look up writings by James Baldwin he was well ahead of his time.


A Message on a Billboard in the Center of Bucharest

In very big letters “LIVE YOUR LIFE. LIVE IT WELL. LIVE IT HARD”. And in small letters “all that other nonsense don’t matter”.

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