October 2011, By Khayla Golucke
Most LMU students are familiar with Mane Entertainment's (ME) Monday night staple, Open Mic Night. But next Wednesday, the student-run organization is trying a new twist on its old classic. Partnering with the Office of Black Student Services, ME is hosting a Poetry Lounge in The Living Room, swapping the normal music of Open Mic Night with spoken word.
Tiffany Hunter, ME's signature events manager and a senior communications studies major, explained that the Poetry Lounge works the same way as a typical Open Mic Night would: There are about six spots for students to perform their own spoken word and sign-ups occur 15 minutes before the event starts. David Romero, a professional spoken word artist and activist from the L.A. area, will be hosting the event and performing some of his own work as well.
"After doing some research online looking for someone to host the event, we stumbled upon David Romero's website," Hunter explained. "Looking at his credits, his social activism stood out, because we hoped that he could possibly enlighten the students who attend Poetry Lounge with his material."
A USC graduate, Romero has written two poetry collections and performed at numerous colleges and schools. Additionally, he is an artist affiliate of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign and the Revolutionary Poets Brigade. As an activist for these groups, Romero's work is intended to spread a message of living responsibly in a cooperative community.
"I enjoy performing funny poems, but I hope that after the laughs, people can stay and listen to the messages that I am spreading with my poetry against racism, against prejudice, against imperialism, against labor exploitation and against economic injustice. I believe in a world free from hunger or any other kind of scarcity," Romero said.
Romero first became interested in using spoken word to spread this message after he was exposed to underground hip-hop and became obsessed with the rhythm and movement of words.
"I immediately became engaged with the politics of spoken word. I loved that spoken word was about something," Romero said. "[People are] using their poetry as a platform for personal expression in a time when so many other cultural forms of expression seem devoid of meaning."
Besides his broader political work, he also describes his material as dealing with "identity politics."
"Everyone at a certain point in his or her life has felt like they either wanted to embrace or run away from a certain identity," Romero said. He hopes that students will be able to relate to this message in his poetry and explore a different artistic medium with which to make a change and express their own issues.
Hunter ultimately felt that exposing students to this idea and artistic method would be a good way to give LMU students a taste of something different.
"At Open Mic, there is usually a focus on the music and not as much on other mediums. Bringing David [Romero] in will hopefully shed light on issues we don't normally focus on at our events. I hope students feel that there is a place on campus where they can not only express themselves and showcase work that they created, but specifically showcase spoken word as well," Hunter said.
The Living Room doors open at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Admission is free.