Poet-preacher-actor-rapper-singer-musician "hyphen-artist extraordinare" Saul Williams was born in Newburgh, N.Y. in 1972. The son of a preacher father and school-teacher mother, he learned to love both the spoken and written word as a child. "I was always making up rhymes," he says. "But I never thought that poetry would become my life."

After graduating from Morehouse College with a B.A. in philosophy, Williams moved to New York City to take a Master's Degree at New York University in Acting and found himself at the epicenter of the New York cafe poetry scene. "It was a great moment in my life," he recalls...