Something about spoken word poetry has always really drawn me in. After the overwhelmingly positive reaction I got from my last post, “Shrinking Women“, I decided it’s time to share one of my all-time favorites: “Girls Who Read”. I don’t know what I love more about this poem, the fact that it is an homage to how attractive a smart girl can be or the story behind its author. The poem is penned by Mark Grist, an English teacher-turned-rapper who first introduced hip hop to his students in order to teach them poetic devices. After entering rap battles that went viral, Mark became an overnight sensation, breaking boundaries in terms of his subject matter and his background.
As a self-proclaimed bookworm (and proud), I may be biased, but I believe “Girls Who Read” is one of his best works. At the risk of sounding cheesy, the basic premise of this piece is along the lines of “smart is the new sexy”. Don’t get me wrong, I am not deluding myself into thinking a Victoria’s Secret Angel is any less drool worthy because she hasn’t brushed up on her Tolstoy. According to Mark, however, the fact that I devour books, enter long-winded arguments and find utter bliss curled up at the end of the day with a book is…attractive. Not endearing, not impressive, not nerdy (OK a little nerdy). But, attractive.
Often being attractive and being intellectual are put in different categories; sealed off in different boxes, as most men longingly dream of the Holy Grail – a girl with Megan Fox looks and Marie Curie brains. Mark challenges this paradigm with the following – what if the brains are the source of attraction? What if that, in and of itself, is a reason to be drawn to someone?
If you want to hear what he has to say (and trust me you do) watch the poem below, read on for the transcription, and let me drool over the new Victoria’s Secret runway show in peace.
“So, what do you go for in a girl?” he crows, lifting the lager to his lips.
He gestures where his mate sits and downs his glass.
“He prefers tits. I prefer ass. What do you go for in a girl?”
“Well, umm”, I feel quite uncomfortable.
The air left the room a long time ago, all eyes are on me.
“If you must know, I like a girl who reads.
I’m not trying to call you a chauvinist, because I know that you’re not alone in this, but I’d like a girl who reads.
Who needs the written word, and who uses the added vocabulary she gleans from novels and poetry to hold lively conversations in a range of social situations.
I like a girl who reads,
Whose heart bleeds at the words of Graham Greene, or even Heat magazine.
Who ties back her hair while she’s reading Jane Eyre, and who goes cover to cover with each Waterstones 3 for 2 offer.
But I want a girl who doesn’t stop there; I want a girl who reads.
A girl who feeds her addiction for fiction with unusual poems and plays that she hunts out in crooked bookshops for days and days and days.
She’ll sit addicted at breakfast, soaking up the back of the cornflakes box.
And the info she gets from what she reads makes her a total fox,
Because she’s interesting and she’s unique,
And her theories make me go weak, at the knees.
I want a girl who reads.
A girl whose eyes will analyze the menu over dinner,
Who’ll use what she learns to kick my ass in arguments so she always ends the winner, but she’d still be sweet.
And she’d still be flirty ’cause she loves the classics and they’re pretty dirty.
And that means late at night she’ll always have me in a stupor,
As we reenact the raunchy bits from the works of Jenny Cooper.
See, some guys prefer asses, some prefer tits, and I’m not saying that I don’t like those bits.
But what’s more important, what supersedes, is a girl with passion, wit and dreams.
So I like a girl who reads.”
WE SAID THIS: I could’ve used you back in middle school, Mark – would’ve locked in a homecoming date fo sho.