Cobain, 10 Years Later: Remembering Kurt In Verse

Kevin Powell, writer, activist and 'Real World' alum, remembers Cobain in verse.

Ten years ago, the news of Kurt Cobain's passing shook a generation. Among the millions moved was journalist Kevin Powell, a longtime senior writer for Vibe magazine. Powell is best known for explorations of hip-hop, racism, sexism and politics that have been published in a variety of publications, but Powell was also a fan of Cobain and Nirvana. When he learned of the musician's death, Powell wrote the following poem, and now presents it once again on the 10th anniversary of Cobain's death.

Reality Check

For Kurt Cobain


i hate myself and want to die

i can hear you saying that now

the words like gunshots blasted into

the skin silencing the nightmares of a

generation we are not an x or twenty-


there is more to our teen spirit

it smells like distorted childhoods

and diapered friendships and parents

who fed us watergate and vietnam

and ronald reagan and saturday morning

cartoons without giving us a love we could

grip and suck on when the earth

was burning in our direction

and now you are gone

nah! i refuse to believe that

a whole bunch of us were gonna go and listen to you

regurgitate our blues (yours too) and make anxiety-filled

guitar licks into a futuristic rock opera (our opera)

your hair would fly like a stringy flag saluting the knuckleheads of

the world, yes! us! the post-civil-rights post-vietnam post-reagan

babies would somehow feel validated when your hoarse, garbled

tongue slapped the world with an indictment that said "you have

neglected us for too long and look, just look at what you have created"

and we would mosh and slam-dance, our bodies contaminated with

this thing called youth, into a fitful overdose (isn't that what they expect of

us anyhow?) of icon-worshipping you: but you are


tongue-kissing your feminine side on saturday night live


eating environmentally-sound fruit next to river phoenix

and you whisper in james dean's ear

as janis, jimi, jim and john, the post-

happy days mount rushmore,

fall stone in love with the grunge thing

and someone will fanzine you

and call you a tragic genius

and bury you in mtv heaven

because no one no one no one

will ever understand why your flannel shirts

and ripped jeans and busted guitars mean

you have loved and lived much longer

than most of us....

Kevin Powell is a poet, journalist, social activist, and the author of six books. He was a cast member on the first season of MTV's "The Real World," and worked for several years as a senior writer at Vibe magazine. He currently does commentary for a number of media outlets, including VH1, and regularly lectures at colleges and universities nationwide on popular culture, American history and politics, and other topics. Kevin Powell can be reached at

You can read Kurt Loder's remembrance of Kurt Cobain and share your thoughts on the late Nirvana frontman in our MTV News feature, "Nirvana: Days of Thunder."