Spoken word event
“Hip-hop is a transsexual walking dead man,” celebrated spoken word artist Jamele Adams said in his opening piece at the poetry jam entitled “Spoken Word: The Bridge Between Them And Us.” It took place in a packed Pugh Center on Friday, Nov. 11.
“Hip-hop no longer belongs to us,” Adams said, continuing, “Allow her to save everyone.” His transcendent poem worked well as an introduction to the night’s powerful denunciation of discrimination and hate through poetry. “I’m simply trying to explain…that my life is different than yours,” Adams said in another poem.
Students Teaching Equality and Piece (STEP) hosted the poetry jam and brought Adams to the Hill from Brandeis University, where he is an associate dean of student life. Many students from Bowdoin College also attended and participated in the event, which operated like an open mic night.
“We are a family,” Adams announced at the beginning of the evening, establishing an atmosphere of support and respect for the student performers. “I’m your opener,” he said humbly.
Students who stepped up to the microphone delivered both original and established spoken word poems with an impressive combination of vulnerability and strength. Many of the poems they recited were deeply personal. Audience members snapped their fingers in admiration of particularly powerful phrases and encouragement when performers occasionally struggled to recall their rhymes.
Students from Bowdoin delivered some of the night’s most notable performances, including a simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking poem that described the painful humiliation caused by the “cocktail concentration camp” that dominates Bowdoin’s social scene; a passionate poem about a white girl who wished she looked more like her black mother; as well as an overtly political poem delivered by two students who said, “We are done being defined by six-letter prisons” like “f****t” and “n****r.”
While the talented poets from Bowdoin suggested that more of a spoken word culture exists on the Brunswick campus, students from the Hill also had several strong performances, most notably Hip- Hop Alliance president Clayton Brown ’13, who performed two original works.
Before closing out the evening, Adams invited the audience to give a standing ovation to all of the brave performers. He emphasized the importance of spoken word poetry, especially as a vehicle to raise awareness and to enact change in a society he believes could be on the brink of an important revolution.
Adams voiced his support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, which he described as a “modern day sit-in,” and also emphasized the importance of spoken word poetry, saying, “Expression is so necessary…. Young people, you are necessary.”
Adams closed out the performance with three powerful pieces, and he made sure to end the event on an optimistic note. “Everything has been so angry tonight, so I want to give you another one,” he said, before proceeding to recite a caring, extraordinarily un-cliché poem about love.