By Gary Kehoe
A tidal wave of rhythm slammed the Rathskeller Friday night as members of ink and professional slam poet Jive Poetic combined to deliver a stellar performance at the College Union Board’s Poetry Night. A blend of poetry, theatre and groove turned a nearly full audience into a temporary family and spread a deep appreciation for personal expression. Though the lights in the Rat were bright, it was raw poetic passion which most lit up the stage.
The audience was quiet, awaiting a sound from the imposing headliner.
“I’m from Brooklyn, so I get nervous in quiet rooms. Usually when a room is quiet, someone is gonna rob you,” he said jokingly.
Poetic quickly robbed the audience of its breath, producing a torrent of rhythm and rhyme that would steal away the night.
He hit the crowd with a soulful declaration of self: “I write auditory hallucinations in sign language,” he said. “My free verse writes itself. Sinking or swimming in my words is determined by how closely you are listening.”
“You guys still with me?” he called afterward, which was met with rousing “yes.” Poetic was in control.
The New York-based slam poet was not always the forceful stage-man the Rat experienced Friday night. In 2001, he quit his job as a PR man at ABC and began the full-time chase for his dream.
“I found myself working ten hours a day and writing seven,” said Poetic. “It was time to make a move.”
Poetic’s soulful, fast-paced poetry resonated. Pieces ranged from funny to politically poignant, all driven by noticeable passion for expression and connection. The poet capped a tremendous night of rhythm and rhyme. As the lights came up, the spotlight remained on this brilliant display of poetic prowess. Not a word was wasted.
Senior sociology major Lou Klein kicked the night off with a piece inspired by a Signal article published last year that misinterpreted one of his poems as being about masturbation. Klein responded with a piece entitled, “This Poem is About Masturbation.” Though the poem came to a subtle climax, Klein’s overall set was impressive. “I plan to continue writing in some form or another after college, professionally or simply keeping a book,” he said. “It is too important to let go of.”
Freshman finance major Dave Gazarian resurrected a work from his senior year of high school, a satirical yet genuine account of young love. Most notably, his poem, “To Have Pride and Sincerity,” decomposed the word “fuck,” revealing the way men often speak degradingly of women.
When senior English major Jeff Harrison modestly approached the microphone, no one expected a high-pitched Southern cry of “Amen!”, but that is what they got. Harrison’s “Southern Baptist Anglo Saxon Denomination,” a critique of good old down-home hypocrisy, was a hit.
Dan Mundy, junior English major, was last to go before the headliner. Mundy’s dry delivery, read from an iPhone, was no match for the impact of his words. His “Joke Houses” assured that though one may laugh at a poet’s words, there is something more serious underneath. With this in mind, the crowd was ready for something serious.