Buddy Wakefield

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2009 Elephant Engine High Dive Revival Tour
Buddy Wakefield
BornKenneth Zane Beasley III
(1974-06-04) June 4, 1974 (age 45)
Shreveport, Louisiana
OccupationSpoken Word Performer, Poet, Actor, Screenwriter, Recording Artist
Literary movementPoetry Slam
Notable worksA Choir of Honest Killers, Gentleman Practice, Stunt Water, Run on Anything, Live at the Typer Cannon Grand
Years active1999-present

Buddy Wakefield (born June 4, 1974 ) is an American performance poet/slam poet. He is a three-time poetry slam world champion[1] [2] and the most toured performance poet in history.[9] His works have been released by Strange Famous Records (CD), Righteous Babe Records (CD), and Write Bloody Publishing (books). He has lived in Sanborn, New York, Baytown, Texas, Seattle, Washington, and currently calls Los Angeles, California, home.


Buddy Wakefield (born Kenneth Zane Beasley III) was born in Shreveport, Louisiana[3], then raised in Sanborn, New York and Baytown, Texas. He was adopted by a stepfather in 1980 and became Buddy Marshall Stevens, before finally settling on Buddy Wakefield. After eighteen years of no contact with the man who adopted him, Buddy chose his own last name. Wakefield, now Buddy's legal last name, was pulled in-the-moment from the Weezer song, My Name is Jonas. Buddy thought the second half of the song began "My name is Wakefield. I've got a box full of your toys." It turns out that Weezer's guitarist, who wrote the song, was not saying Wakefield. He was saying Wepeel, the name of the guitarist's sled from childhood.  

In 2001, Buddy left his position as the executive assistant at a biomedical firm[4] in Gig Harbor, Washington, sold or gave away everything he owned, and moved into a Honda Civic to tour North American poetry venues.[5]

In 2004, and again in 2005, Buddy Wakefield won the Individual World Poetry Slam Championship title, becoming the first poet to win the title two consecutive years.[6] Wakefield has been a member of several poetry slam teams, including Team Long Beach in 2002, and Team Seattle in 2006 and 2007.

Wakefield, who now lives in Los Angeles, California, pursuing acting and screenwriting for both television and film, continues to make a living through poetry and performance. In addition to touring the world solo, Wakefield has also been a core member of several traveling poetry groups, including 2007's Solomon Sparrow's Electric Whale Revival, 2008's Junkyard Ghost Revival, 2009's Elephant Engine High Dive Revival and 2010's Night Kite Revival, where he shared the stage with poets such as Derrick Brown, Anis Mojgani, Andrea Gibson and Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, among others.[7] As of 2019, Wakefield has performed in every state in the U.S. except North Dakota. On purpose.

Poetry, Performance, Books and Records[edit]

Wakefield was the inaugural author released on Write Bloody Publishing founded by Derrick C. Brown. He has published five subsequent books with Write Bloody Publishing:[8] Some They Can't Contain (2004, originally The Wordsmith Press; reissued by Write Bloody Publishing), Live for a Living (2007, Write Bloody Publishing)[9], Gentleman Practice (2011, Write Bloody Publishing), Stunt Water: The Buddy Wakefield Reader 1991-2011 (2015, Write Bloody Publishing), and A Choir of Honest Killers (October 15, 2019, Write Bloody Publishing).

Wakefield also wrote and published a book with Stephen Snook, an entertaining table book on backyard chicken rearing in urban environments: Henhouse: The International Book for Chickens and Their Lovers (2012, Write Bloody Publishing) ISBN 978-1-938912-05-4

Wakefield has also released three full-length spoken word albums with producer Jon Berardi: A Stretch of Presence (1999) (co-produced with Levi Lyman), Run On Anything (2006) which was released by Strange Famous Records,[10] and Live at the Typer Cannon Grand (2009) which was released by Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe Records.[11] DiFranco first became aware of Wakefield when her mother saw him perform at an art gallery in Buffalo, New York, and gave DiFranco a print out of Wakefield's website, saying, "You have to do something with this guy."[4] The album contains recordings of live performances, including several from Wakefield's numerous tours opening for DiFranco, as well as one studio-produced track.

The Poetry Revival Tours[edit]

In 2007, Wakefield began touring annually with Derrick C. Brown and Anis Mojgani, calling their group “The Poetry Revival,” originally conceived by Dan Leaman and Mighty Mike McGee. Each year, the group invited other popular performance poets and musicians to join them for certain legs of the tour, and altered the name slightly to reflect the changing line-up. 2007 was known as Solomon Sparrow's Electric Whale Revival. 2008 was known as Junkyard Ghost Revival. 2009 was known the Elephant Engine High Dive Revival. And 2010 was known as the Night Kite Revival. These events were performed to large, enthusiastic audiences throughout North America.


Though he has not competed in Poetry Slam, a competition he refers to as a gimmick, since 2008, Wakefield has had a profound impact on the contemporary Poetry Slam movement, both in his performance and writing style, as well as how he has conducted his career. In her book, Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, author Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz named Wakefield as "the modern poetry slam role model." She wrote,

...[Wakefield] sold everything he owned and toured the country, living out of his car when he wasn't crashing on couches. He was not the first slam poet to do this and certainly not the last, but he was definitely the most high-profile, and he really set the stage for what I like to call the "Troubadour Movement" in slam, the whole desire simply to tour, to reach out and be with your community.[12]





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