By DeAndre Washington, Staff Writer
If you know about spoken word, a bi-weekly open mic is not the only avenue writers use as an outlet. Sometimes it takes having to compete against another.
For brief context, I am a poet that doesn’t believe in poetry at the moment. There’s not enough want for the craft that goes behind the writing, and to be a poet in the AUC has meant hearing the same narrative over and over. Whether that’s for a pageant or a one-off open mic, poetry has not given me the same feelings as before.
I was hopeful in finding a community to join rather than having to create or even re-establish a community. Coming from DC: a space that treated poetry events as the thing to do on Friday nights may make you a little spoiled; but who’s to say it isn’t warranted moving to Atlanta?
A city often considered a Mecca for Black artistic expression. More specifically, moving to the AUC: a community that prides itself on social justice work and black liberation. Due to obsessively watching “A Different World” the summer to prepare myself for the HBCU experience, my expectations were set relatively high.
All this to say, Feb. 28 was a reminder that poetry is not dead in the AUC. The art still breathes alongside other artistic expressions in this community. And people still care about including the work in spaces. At least that’s what senior Darrell Larome and The Artist Expo did by promoting that inclusion through hosting The AUC Poetry Slam Event.
Throughout the night, poets graced the stage in an effort to win a grand prize of $500 dollars to keep for themselves. Ten artists came together to compete against each other; but also to reignite the excitement for writing. Although this competition was elimination style with only three poets advancing to the next round, it felt good to see people embracing each other beyond the first round.
“That night was honestly healing for me because I knew I wanted to put my all on the stage and that my competitors – that were not much competitors, more peers- were all going to give all they had as well,” winner, Deniero Bell said.
With all the pressure, people still took time to love one another. The seven competitors that didn’t advance stayed to see the outcome, supported as if they’d known each other for years, and gave me the Friday nights I loved so much in high school. These poets spoke for more than just themselves and told us they had something to say.
Bell carried on by expressing how he believed in the possibility of having more consistent poetry events on campus.
“I think there should be more consistent poetry events because poetry is literally the backbone of society,” Bell said. “A commonplace, where wordsmiths come together and capture change in three minutes or less. Poetry is so essential we just need to show folks how essential it is.”
This reinvigorated my love for the art. Just hearing perspectives from different walks of life took me back to feelings that caught more dust in the addict than hoped for. And that’s not to say poetry is alive and well, but it is breathing still. Trying it’s best to see the good in one-off nights until they become consistent again.