Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 30, 2022

If you're in need of a satisfying change of pace from the perpetual, often-over-analyzed poetry in the IFP classes and want to bask in a unique artistic cultural celebration, too bad - the Black Student Union's poetry slam occurred this past Friday at Nolan's.

The brainchild of Marc Smith, who started a poetry reading series in a Chicago jazz club in 1985 as an attempt to breathe life into poetry readings, slam poetry is noticeably different in several regards. "The difference between slam poetry and written poetry [is that slam poetry is] usually much more contemporary with greater use of word play and modern, very modern up to date allusions," explained freshman Justin B. Jones, the poetry slam organizer. "It's `kinda like rap but with a little more thought, and a different style of performance as well."

Not to mention a hell of a lot of wit as well. In a battle to win the prizes of $100, $50 and $25, participants tried to woo the audience through poems of varying lengths, structures and social commentary to be chosen through to the final round of three.

As both talented veterans and hosts for the event, Archie the Messenger and Lyrical the Lyricist from Morgan State University, began the night with a performance based around the opening lines "I write for life/no longer am I worthless." Continuing, a brief mention about being respectful towards readers was issued as most if not all were reading for their first time.

While poems' styles were all over the places -- the strangest poem being "Roses are Red, Violets are Blue/Some poems rhyme/This one don't" -- the three most memorable, unsurprisingly, were also the finalists.

Sophomore Alassane Soumare spewed a rhythmically smooth piece addressed to his haters -- specifically pointing to his tight

fitting jeans at one moment; Claudine Jones, sophomore, slammed a sizzling hot-iron burning all men --- a zing like no other echoed through the roar around the room; and Nneka Eke, freshman, reminisced on her "Ode to the 90s," seamlessly tying together bountiful clever uses of pop culture shows and music.

With free Danish, more poetry and a performance of "Fever," the intermission was enjoyable considering its somewhat long length.

After another performance from the hosts on the topic of relationships -- the line "they might be your girlfriend at Hopkins/but at Towson they be freaky" a definite highlight -- the finalists took the stage in a word battle for cash.

With Valentine's Day on the horizon, Soumare delivered poem deemed cute by the minute groans, titled, "Cupid's Surpise." Eke delivered a philosophical commentary on the role of women in hip hop and rap music/videos with "They get it from society."

And perhaps the favorite going into the finals, Jones, talked some love in "Love Triangle," although it was clear she was more confident in her earlier poem -- though it was surprising that these were only the second and third poems she'd ever written.

Results in: Soumare took third, Jones took second and Eke took first.

Some controversy may have been involved, as the audience was composed primarily of woman, and was judged Apollo style -- loudness of applause.

Soumare explained that the room had a lot of man haters, laughingly giving his advice to, "Get over it."

While the venue may have been just half-filled in the backside of the popular campus eatery, the raw energy of the crowd mixed with their hospitality more than solved the problem.

Throughout the event a certain member of the audience disrupted the warm environment.

"I wish there was no blender or sizzler," revealed Jones.

Out of payback for an earlier offense, Calvino shot back: "In short, the structurally free/no holds barred/cuss if you want to for effect/culturally intelligent poetry slam was, the [expletive deleted]."

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