With so much going on at a comic book convention, it’s important to know what to spend your time doing – especially when it comes to sitting in on panels. Most con-goers want to be part of a community, but many of the panels leave nerds feeling further away from the culture they came to embrace. As a culture, we’ve been so connected that it’s become all about how we can capture the moment digitally instead of embracing the people that share the same interests. It’s high time to put the the community back into conventions. This past Saturday at Denver Comic Con, we were treated to a panel entitled “So you want to write nerd poetry?” that did just that.
The panel was run by two close friends of the Hush Comics’ family, Panama Soweto and Ken Arkind – or as they are better known to the college and slam poetry circuit, The Dynamic Duo. They are an unlikely pair that became close friends after a mutual friend let them fight over an original English dubbed VHS of the anime classic, Akira. Two poets with completely different origin stories came together to create something beautiful. After testing their mettle in the fertile land for poetry that is Denver (Denver as a city has won nearly every single major accolade for National Slam Poetry there is), Panama and Ken have traveled the country together for a decade, talking to college students about what was nearest and dearest to them: nerd stuff!
What exactly is nerd stuff? What makes a person a nerd? After some deliberation, the answer to these questions became clear. A nerd is just someone who loves something. No longer are nerds reserved to the 80’s stereotypes there are comic book nerds and computer nerds, video game nerds and motorcycle nerds, music nerds and cooking nerds. You get the point; being a nerd is a great thing – a powerful trait that allows you to be master of your own piece of the universe. Before even making poetry, the Dynamic Duo asked the participants several questions centered around what makes us nerds, having several volunteers of diverse fandoms and appearances come to the front of the stage for an exercise called a Culture Walk, a diversity exercise where seemingly-opposite people stand together and step forward at affirmations of common bonds.
The veil of unfamiliarity had been lifted; everybody in the room was no longer a stranger. They were no longer defined by the fandom they represented. The actualization that we are all part of a larger culture is necessary – even more so at a convention that estimated a turnout of over 100,000 attendees. Being brave enough to let your walls down and love something as unequivocally as nerds do is more powerful than we realize. Nerds made a Deadpool movie happen, nerds resurrected the comic book industry, and nerds are the reason George Clooney is still apologizing for Batman & Robin. Thanks to panels like The Dynamic Duo’s, we’re reminded that the real power of these conventions isn’t in the glamour and celebrity, but in the ability to congregate countless people from all walks of life to celebrate their passions. This is what family looks like.
You can find the Dynamic Duo on Twitter and Facebook.
Panama Soweto: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. You can get his most recent book, PhotoMagnetic Explosions and Stuff, here.
Ken Arkind: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. You can get his most recent book, Coyotes, here.