Poet to jive and rhyme against hip-hop, abuse of women

By Ashley Camblin

Bridget Gray decided to end her relationship with hip-hop.

“Dear Hip Hop…” she wrote in a poem. “I know in the beginning I was down to work my hips, but I was tricked. Seduced by your beat. You had me for three minutes and forty-six seconds. I was suspended in time, but when I snapped out of it I had to ask, ‘Did I hear what I thought I did in that last rhyme?’ ”

Gray’s poem “My Letter to Hip Hop,” is just one of many the aspiring poet has written. Her work often focuses on subjects of abuse and degradation of women.

Students have a chance to hear her work in person when Gray performs tonight at 7:30 in Memorial Hall.

The topics she writes about drew the attention of UK’s Student Activities Board when she performed at the board’s national conference in Nashville in February 2007.

“Women’s Place (the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center) is starting to get really big on campus, and her poems relate to women’s issues and other things Women’s Place targets,” said Bryan Kennedy, SAB’s multicultural program director and Kernel reporter.

Gray, who began her career acting after graduating from college, decided to combine her two passions for performance and poetry in 1998. The following year, she won the first poetry slam she ever entered, according to her Web site (http://bridgetgray.com). She became the first and only female to be named back-to-back Grand Slam Champion in Los Angeles and Hollywood.

Since then Gray has been featured on several television programs, including HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam.” She has also opened for acts like the Black-Eyed Peas, Erykah Badu and Joss Stone, and has released two CDs of her own, “Shades of Gray” and “Self Love.”