Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Don't call this Penn spoken word poet "granola"!

The more I write about alumni and undergrads, the more I'm realizing that not only is there a lot of talent out there, but our Penn folk have some powerful opinions and voices.

One such alum is Caroline Rothstein (C'06, The Excelano Project), a spoken word poet currently living in New York City. Her poetry is honest, real, personal, and political.

...Listen to the power behind her poem below, "They Call Me Granola" (put your headphones on..not safe for work). This is great...:

This past year, Caroline also self-published a book of her poetry called "What I Learned In College." Books are $5 and can be purchased by emailing Caroline directly at

In addition to spoken word, Caroline keeps a blog that she began upon moving to Atlanta. You can find her adventures throughout the United States and deep into the streets of Manhattan.

Listen to more of her poetry HERE

Learn how Caroilne got started in "spoken word" HERE

More alumni specializing in "the spoken word" HERE

More 2006 alumni alumni news HERE

Read "Life Worth", an excerpt/poem from Caroline's chapbook* "What I Learned in College"HERE

*A chapbook is a book of poetry. It's typically a book that a poet puts out on their own, so mostly self published/printed, etc.

"Life Worth"

He’d just bought a pair of shoes
Hundred dollar sneakers, shopping bag, right hand

He walks down Central Street in Highland Park, Illinois –
a brand name sidewalk with affluent stores
He knocks on the pharmacy window to buy Gatorade and a bag of pretzels but they wave him away –
It’s 4 PM on a Sunday and they are closing up shop

A senior at his high school pulls an illegal U-Turn
An elderly man stops short to avoid collision, skids onto the curb,
and throws my brother into the side of a store building
His head cracks open, his eyes close shut,
and his sneakers fling into the air as his spleen develops cuts
They do brain surgery, put him on respirators,
Rabbi Mason prays by his ICU bedside but he never wakes up
I’m crouched over his bedside begging him,
Yelling at him “Josh, wake up! Josh, please, wake up!”

He was only shoe shopping,
Walking side by side teenage girls that purchase emaciation on a hanger,
Which is really just a metaphor for
Shirts sewn in sweat shops by starving children
And studies say that executing killers costs more than
Keeping them in prison for the rest of their lives
And funeral prices are on the rise:
Cremation packages start at 2000, the average casket is 6000
28 dollars a month to purchase an orphan on the internet
13 bucks for a Japanese picture bride to weed the fields and strip sugar cane
Not too much for a mail order bride –
Choose her nationality, her body shape, and human pedigree
And since this is an unregulated business,
I don’t have fancy statistics to insert here: ____
About how many women are bought by strangers yearly
As we get a price check in aisle five
To bargain lives that we further judge when they die

My family goes to trial so the killers can pay for our loss in insurance
There’s no way to judge but the judge sits there asking me:
How much was his life worth?
My fifteen year old brother had 20, 000 dollars in savings
From selling beanie babies at a hundred times their cost
On an ebay auction block
650 dollars to buy an African teen on a Southern auction block
How much is a life worth?

We purchase human beings from fruitless trees
We consume materials and will them to our offspring
We hang child labor on manikins
We dangle death next to cash registers
We kill children in store front windows

And judge their worth in finances even though
The only bank in heaven is the locked vault of karma
The only currency in heaven is a set of intangible beliefs
The only worth in heaven can’t even be proven
How much is a life worth?

He was fifteen years old walking happy on a sidewalk
He was fifteen years old shackled standing on an auction block
He was fifteen years old starving sewing in a sweat shop
How much is a life worth?

Josh, wake up, Josh, please wake up
How much is your life worth?
It’s worth waking up every day to face the misery of death’s reality
It’s worth becoming straight edge
to never miss a single moment of sobriety
It’s worth my living breath to overcome death
Josh, you are what my life’s worth



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