Sometimes small changes can make or break a night. SLAM!, (Soul, Love, And Meaning), Boston College’s spoken word club, was supposed to host its first Sunset SLAM! of the year outside. Unfortunately, the weather was dreary and cold, and rather than force the audience and the poets to sit in the chilly evening weather, SLAM! managed to nab Cushing 001. This small change in venue was the difference that took the event from good to great. The small lecture hall was dimly lit.
At the front, bathed in a soft light, an open mic stood alone. In the minutes leading up to the event’s beginning, audience members trickled in, nodding, waving, or calling out greetings to each other. Everyone settled into the cushioned chairs and waited in anticipation for the event to begin. Many attendees were long-time fans of the club and of its poetry performances. WIthout fail, the poets who speak provide powerful emotion and evocative imagery in each of their poems. And this event would be no exception.
As this was the first event of the academic year. Miya Coleman, president of SLAM! and MCAS ’19, spent a few minutes introducing the idea of slam poetry and going over a few suggested ways to show your appreciation for the poet. Suggestions included: snaps, moans, or even shouting “Yes, poet!”
Coleman was the first performance, and the night couldn’t have begun on a higher note. Her poem was a conversation from a daughter to her mother, in which the daughter begins by asking her mother why didn’t she tell her that life would be so hard, and that she would face so much opposition because of her gender, her race, and more. In response the mother says that “Baby I truly hope you know / That if I could I would give you every ounce of my soul / Every ache and every memory I would give to you to take / So you wouldn’t have to figure anything out on your own.”
Later, Olivia Sorenson, vice president of SLAM! and MCAS ’20, stepped up to the mic to deliver another incredible performance. Her poem was called “An Invitation to Cool People,” and she admitted that she had only finished the poem about 10 minutes before. She tells the story of her love for poetry. When she was young she fell in love with poetry and with the great poets. But, as she grew up, those around her did not understand or seek to understand her love for poetry. Instead, she had to mute her passion because “cool girls don’t write poetry.” But this poem was meant to invite all of the “cool people” in her life that never listened before to give it a chance. Throwing in references to J. Cole and 22 Jump Street (“Jesus died for our Cynthias”), Sorenson’s poem was powerful but accessible to all those who felt misunderstood by those around them, even if it wasn’t for their love of poetry.
For the purposes of length, not every poet can be discussed or mentioned. This does not mean, however, that they weren’t just as powerful and talented as the other performers. Their words were intentful and arresting, buffeting the audience with the emotional force with which they were delivered. SLAM! deserves recognition for its uncanny ability to provide incredible events so consistently.
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor