Kendall Coleman is Syracuse’s 6-foot-3, 265-pound poet

first_img Published on April 12, 2018 at 10:30 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21 Kendall Coleman is Syracuse’s 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive end. He’s also a poet.Sometimes, he throws his headphones on and listens to Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole for inspiration. He fills blank spots in their songs with his own words and studies how their pacing, word choice, rhythm and overall story arc work together. Other times, inspiration hits him when he’s sitting in class, walking around campus or on the team plane. His ideas could develop in a matter of minutes or hours, depending on the day.“I’ll be sitting on campus and I see the sunset setting over the (David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics) in the back of campus. ‘Like wow, that’s a neat sight.’ I’ll write about it. This happens whenever, wherever.”“This” is Coleman’s love for poetry: Specifically, the process of creating art and capturing scenes. Dozens of poems sit in the notes app in his iPhone. Nobody but Coleman reads them. He will begin his third year as a likely starter on the Syracuse defensive line this fall, but he uses poetry as a means to free himself from feeling boxed in by perceptions about who a football player is supposed to be.An Indianapolis native, Coleman tied for second among defensive linemen for the Orange with 28 tackles last season, and he started 11 games as a freshman in 2016. About two years ago, in his first year at SU, he started jotting down poems regularly as a means to be creative, fulfill a passion and de-stress. He has written poems about love, transformation and SU’s Remembrance Week. He has performed twice in front of audiences on the SU campus despite not having taken a poetry class in his life.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Words are very powerful,” Coleman said. “When people use words in the right way, it can control a lot of different emotions and perspectives. Instead of just writing to write, I try to capture beautiful moments around campus, because it’s about being more than a football player. I want to make sure the world knows me as more than Kendall Coleman, No. 55.”Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff Photographer“Poetry helps a lot to not only internalize what I’ve got going on, but actually get it out there, get it on paper, and be able to accept it for what it is and move forward from there,” Coleman said. “Poems take me on a mental adventure.”Poetry is a refuge for the brain — reading poems can help the brain cope with turmoil, according to a study by the University of California. Poetry is quiet. Sports, especially football, are loud and physical. That’s why Coleman finds peace in his notes app, typing away feelings or describing scenes.In October, in front of about 40 people at Schine Student Center, Coleman walked up on stage and performed a poem in honor of the families of those who lost loved ones in Pan Am Flight 103. He entitled it, “Remember me?”Do you remember me?Remember all the places I told you I wanted to see?Remember I had all these aspirations of things I wanted to be?Remember how much I used to care? And all the love I used to shareHoping my love would travel around the world like waves in the sea?Understand that these people are just like you and me.Understand that they are more than just a memoryWhose souls will never ask “do you remember me?”Afterward, Coleman met up with former Syracuse tight end and fellow poet Cameron MacPherson, a 2016 Remembrance Scholar. MacPherson performed a poem in honor of Thomas Schultz, whom he represented for the week.“What are you doing here? You’re a poet?” MacPherson recalls asking Coleman.“I was kind of blown away,” MacPherson said later.Coleman wrote up the eight-line piece and performed it because, a few days earlier, Remembrance Scholars had visited one of his classes and explained the gravity of the event. Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Thirty-five SU students on the flight who were returning to the United States from studies abroad were killed. Coleman felt inspired to utilize his talent and create a tribute for them.That wasn’t Coleman’s first performance. Last spring, Hernz Laguerre, another former Syracuse football player, needed a favor. His friend in a sorority was asking for men to perform in a pageant. Laguerre knew Coleman was a “stand-out individual,” so he asked him if he would get on stage for a few minutes. Because it was for charity, and Coleman wanted to do his friend a favor, he signed up.He decided the topic of his poem would be a friend, Leah, which means “Lemon tree” in Greek. He wrote about the beauty of her name, tying in a lemon tree as a figure. He said he felt comfortable despite being the only freshman to perform among a group of all juniors and seniors. After the performance, a member of the audience walked up to him and said the tone reminded him of J. Cole, one of Coleman’s sources for inspiration.“I was nervous,” Coleman said. “The spotlight shines in your face, but I got a good feel, got into my rhythm and went about how I wanted it to go.”Talia Trackim | Design EditorColeman rereads his own work to familiarize himself with where his thoughts were, who he was and how he has grown since he wrote a poem. When he started writing, he wanted everything to rhyme. Now, he just focuses on telling a story and understands that not all lines have to rhyme. They just have to be in the right spot.I am lost…but that’s okayI have lost my moneyI have lost my carI have lost my relationships…but that’s okayI have lost my happinessI have lost my angerI have lost my sadness…but that’s okayI have lost my willI have lost my motivationI have lost my spirit…but that’s okayIt was never mine to hold onto anywayWhat set Coleman on his quest for his hobby wasn’t a love for poetry or being called a bookworm for hunkering down in a library reading books and short stories. What sparked his love was an elementary school literary assignment, when he was assigned a report on a poet. Coleman and his mother, Nikki, drove to a local library and found a poem by Langston Hughes, “Mother to Son.” It told story of life struggles, how a mother worked hard and “how she passed the torch to her son.”“The message there is, ‘You have to keep pushing forward,’” Coleman said. “That one has stuck with me for a long time now. When I see my mom, or hear her voice, I know she’s there and what she did in helping me get where I am.”In seventh grade, Coleman waited until the last minute to finish a writing assignment. But he whipped up a few lines of poetry and “the words just started flowing.” It wasn’t until his senior year of high school that he picked up poetry for real, again thanks to a school assignment. The words came naturally to him, a sign that poetry could be worth pursuing. He said last week that he’d love to involve poetry in his career. But he won’t hang up or frame any of his work until he deems it good enough. He hasn’t yet. Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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