SPOKE!—the open-mic poetry program, kick-started the spring semester with a presentation featuring the 2012 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, Edward Mabrey.
As part of Black History month, the event welcomed students to listen and share their pieces last Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in The HUB: An Integral Center for Diversity, Vitality and Creativity.
The first speaker of the night was Dahlak Brathwaite, a hip hop artist and spoken word poet who informed the audience about the origin of hip hop culture and his insights as to how it has evolved and changed over time.
According to Brathwaite, hip hop started in the early ‘70s in The Bronx, New York when DJ Kool Herc originated hip hop music. He was the first person to use two turntables and make use of the break beat from records of James Brown.
Brathwaite’s lecture led into his first poem, where he gave praise to the originator of hip hop with poetic rhythms and lyrics spoken out, reminiscent of how they were first represented at the time.
Over time there has been a shift in hip hop culture where people no longer want to be labeled as conscious anymore.
Brathwaite encourages people to either be comfortable, or decide to make change in the world of hip hop by protesting the norms actively whether it be simply not going to particular events or listening to certain songs.
“My biggest influence I would say is Malcolm X, especially for what I do with spoken word,” said Brathwaite. “It was just the first opportunity to speak to people with no music or anything and just have them listen; I feel like I’m affecting change through my words.”
Next up in the program was an open mic poetry session. SSU student, Kala Heekin, was among the first of six people to bring her clever writing to the microphone stand.
“Being here and seeing such wonderful people really gets your gears going for creativity,” said Heekin. “It’s so empowering to be with other students who are lifting you up and encouraging you to be creative and emotive and vulnerable in such a space.”
After the volunteer presenters were given the opportunity to present their pieces, the event proceeded towards headliner Edward Mabrey.
Do you feel comfortable where you are? A question that Mabrey asked the audience prior to beginning, making sure everyone was relaxed and awake to comprehend his beautiful poems.
He started off his piece by telling everyone to close their eyes and bow their heads; having the audience imagine placing their problems in a basket next to their left foot. This unexpected, interactive piece set the tone for everyone to step out of their comfort zone and become immersed in a new perspective.
Mabrey’s passion for poetry was shown in full bloom this evening and left a lasting impression on viewers with his deep and resounding expressions of inspiration and life experience.
His piece titled, “Pursuit of Happyness,” was one that really painted a picture of reality and judgments made in an everyday not-so-average exchange while waiting in line at a Subway restaurant.
Another piece was about Mabrey’s reasons to elect Katy Perry as the next president of the United States. While most of the poems he presented were meant to teach and help audience members consider many issues in the world, this one in particular was a pleasant and refreshing addition to include, and had listeners dying with laughter.
At the end of his presentation, Mabrey sat down and did a question and answer session with audience members allowing them to freely ask him anything that was on their mind.
One question that stood out was the overall theme that Mabrey discusses in his pieces, which he was entirely open to filling people in on.
“It’s okay to be you, it’s okay to find beauty in something simple,” said Mabrey. “You can find whatever you want in lyrics; it just depends on what you are looking for.”
Mabrey concluded the night by discussing a personal philosophy which he lives by.
“We are all superheroes, we just don’t know what our super power is, we all have amnesia and have forgotten what it is, so find out what yours is,” said Mabrey. “Be super at something, don’t be ordinary; be extra ordinary.”
The SPOKE! open mic poetry event will be featured next month as well, where everyone is free to participate and share a poem.