Even a small stage can be a huge feat for some people, yet the atmosphere at the Black Student Alliance’s annual Poetry Night was calm and supportive. The event took place on Feb. 16. and included an hour filled with open-mic poetry followed by a performance of guest poet Jasmine Mans.
During the first hour twelve students and one faculty member performed their own pieces of poetry. Topics ranged from institutionalized racism, the themes of diversity, and love in all of its forms.
Liz Lane, sophomore, praised the nature of the event. “My favorite part was seeing my friends perform and have a chance to speak their mind about topics that don’t get the recognition they deserve,” said Lane. Some poets even requested audience participation and asked the audience to repeat words or answer questions during performances.
Poetry Night has become a welcomed part of Black History Month among students. The event serves as an artistic and emotional outlet for the students and fosters a respectful and engaging environment. The house rules for the event even requested “Respect the mic, respect those performing” even if there was something said that could have been taken as offensive.
Guest poet Jasmine Mans performed for her third time at Poetry Night, and as always she delivered a moving and thought-provoking performance. Mans is a New Jersey native with a BA in African-American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2012 she was one of Glamour magazine’s “Top 10 Most Influential Women in College” and has opened for many artists, such as Goapele, Mos Def and Janelle Monae.
Mans spoken word was sweet, sad and angry. Her all-encompassing display of emotion silenced the audience with her pain and brought them back up with her joy. In her opening, she requested that the audience “internalize and reflect” what she was saying and if something was shocking “digest the shock and internalize the meaning.”
At the end of performance, Mans said she started writing poetry because she needed something to do and she had something to say. Because poetry is an outlet for emotions that many keep inside, her words hit home for some students.
Raven Daniels, senior, said “Poetry night is important to the MC community because there are students that have talent and sometimes we need to get something out of our chest.” Daniels has performed her own writings at the past two Poetry Nights, and to her “Poetry is a way to express your internal feelings that you held in for a long time.”
Through dueling meta-rap, expressions of thoughts held inside, the asking of questions left unanswered and the raw emotion unleashed, Poetry Night stands as one of the campus community’s treasured outlets for respected student opinion and art.
Myka Bland, BSA secretary, said “BSA hosting Poetry Night is important to this campus because not many organizations on campus allow them the opportunity to perform their works in front of a comfortable audience and peaceful place.” Bland agreed that poetry continues to be an important part of Black History Month because “It allows people to show that they are more than what we portray them to be.”