Santa Monica College Hosts 'Spoken Word'
A hip-hop poetry reading was hosted by Santa Monica College two weeks ago in the Cayton Center shortly after the last Inter-Club Council meeting had finished. Incense filled the room as tables and couches were set up for the incoming audience. By 6:30 p.m., a little more than a dozen students welcomed the four poets about to take stage.
First up was Mark Gonzales with an enthusiastic and lively reading of his piece, "A New Form of Apology," a poem describing, among other things, violent acts that have occurred against women, as well as the contradictions and beliefs of men constantly struggling to be strong, but not always able to show emotion. His words and actions immediately caught the attention of the audience, who applauded as soon as he finished.
Gonzales, a native Alaskan and student starting his master's and fellowship at UCLA, helped organize the event through the Human Writes Project. "I'm happy for the people that turned out and the positive energy," said Gonzales after reading his poems.
The next poet up was UCLA senior Gabriela Garcia Medina, who read poems having an interesting mix of Spanish and English lines. Their mixture in her lyrics kept the audience riveted in their seats.
To Medina, the crowd's upbeat attitude was also a big help to her on the floor. "I really enjoyed the energy. I was very blessed to perform with Jade Ross and Aya," she said.
As the readings continued, they gradually caught the attention of passing students, many of whom sat down to listen to the poets recite their lines.
Jade Ross, an SMC student, then stood before the crowd to read her poems, one titled "Love Song" which caught the hearts and minds of a number of those watching.
The delivery of the poem was a very artistic combination of music and poetic lines, Ross's voice varying from that of a singer to a poet constantly during her session. Ross has been singing since the seventh grade and writing all her life.
"I thought it was inspirational, and I think creative people are needed today to express the truths of the world," said Ross shortly after finishing her lines.
Expressing current events through poetry was, in fact, one of the main things each poet seemed to do with their words. Current events regarding war, corruption and violence seeped through their lines.
In between readings, the micro-phone opened up to discussion and questions, varying from each poet's motivation to exactly what hip-hop was.
Then last, Aya deLeon, Harvard undergraduate and featured poet at the event, approached the crowd with her piece "Cellulite," a poem about both the literal meaning of the word and much more.
She helped maintain the focus of the audience by having them participate in her lines, increasing the jovial tone already felt in the group.
Although some students attended the poetry reading purely for a class assignment, there were a number of those who seemed genuinely pleased by all they saw, like SMC freshman and film major Siavash Behmard. "It was very entertaining," he said. "I liked the hip-hop influence."
Errol Thompson, junior, shared similar thoughts, saying "A lot of the things she (Aya) discussed I can relate to. It was great."
For deLeon, her view of things matched that of her other fellow poets. "It was a really positive community," she said.