Shihan the Poet, past winner of the National Poetry Slam, along with some of Geneseo's slam poets performed to an energetic audience at the KnightSpot last Friday evening.
The show commenced with Shihan the Poet, who recited all of his poems by memory. Shihan said that he originally got into poetry because of his love for reading and has "been living off of poetry since '97."
One of the pieces, "The Untitled Hood" by Nikki Rakes, was both moving and effective in its contrast with his comical and carefree nature on stage.
During his performance, Shihan called on the audience to read, saying, "It would be good to hear a female voice here." He also encouraged people to ask questions between poems.
Shihan entertained with colorful stories of his life in Los Angles with his wife and young daughter. Speaking about his life and poetry's influence he said, "I believe poetry is a live phenomenon, in the sense that it really has to be seen to be truly understood."
Sophomore Ingamar Dion Ramirez, member of Geneseo's slam team Different Now, started off the student part of the show by discussing the recent formation of the team, which occurred only a couple months ago. Ramirez noted that slam poetry is "a relatively new art form" as well.
Ramirez read two poems, each serving as a classic example of slam poetry focusing on the manipulation and clever juxtaposition of words and phrases. One line in his first poem, "Night and day I eat and breathe words," showcased his talent for employing language. Ramirez's second piece was a love poem speaking about the formation of love poems.
Senior Steve Sanfilippo set the tone of his recitation with the comment, "I usually kind of scream at the audience, but tonight I kind of just want to chill."
The majority of his poems were based around a trip to Mississippi to restore its communities. "I went to Mississippi over break - Most of the people helped build houses. I helped destroy houses," he said.
Sanfilippo used carefully selected and sophisticated vocabulary in his poems to skillfully express the scenes and emotions of his experiences to his listeners: "New Orleans Jazz fills the sky / Spiritual vision of the sun." Listeners might almost feel the haze of the day and the southern sun blazing overhead as he spoke.
Sophomore Donat De La Cruz, in his poems "Pen on Pad" and "Spanglish" incorporated his experiences in growing up in an urban, Latino area. One topic he discussed was facing racism: "Take my heritage, my history, I will speak when there is silence. I will forever remain conscious." "Spanglish," written partially in Spanish, was about the neighborhood where he lived where the elders "gave life lessons in the blink of an eye but can't seem to follow."
Overall, Geneseo's latest slam poetry event proved successful and evidenced just how strong the passion for this type of self-expression has become on campus.