Poetry Slam Shows the Art Remains Alive Today

On Wednesday night, a group of students settled down for a night of rhythm and rhymes as USG’s Program Board hosted a program entitled “Poetry Slam” at Ground Zero.

Speak up · Wednesday night, Ground Zero hosted a poetry showcase with Javon Johnson, along with other student performers such as Caspar Brun, a freshman majoring in theatre. The poets touched on life themes. - Carlo Acenas | Daily Trojan

The event featured performances from six students performers as well as special guest Javon Johnson.

As the headliner of the event, spoken word artist Johnson was a name and face familiar to several members of the audience.

He is a teaching fellow at USC in the department of American Studies and Ethnicity and has performed at freshman orientations on campus in years past.

Despite the fact that Johnson concluded the night, he was the one who managed to get the most noise from the crowd by peppering his performance with anecdotes about his dating history and dishing out some relationship advice.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, all of Johnson’s poems centered around love.

One of his poems told the story of a relationship just starting out, punctuated with Johnson’s signature, humorous lines.

“I told you the story of the homeless man who tried to squirt me with a water gun. He followed me for almost half a block,” he said in one of his poems.

His most amusing poem, however, was titled “10 Reasons Why Women Are Like Religion,” where he weaved together sentimentality and comedy, giving reasons like: “Both of them assume a portion of my income belongs to them,” and “Both want to tell me the most important shit during Sunday morning football.”

The six student performers who preceded Johnson each brought something different to the table.

Marc Payne, a senior majoring in communication and the first performer of the night, opened his set with a poem titled “Irrelevant Flaws,” which merged the description of an idealized woman with constant references to the commodities of modern life.

Payne’s most interesting poem was his last, entitled “Circle of Sex.”

The poem started with a casual and light tone about sex: “I had sex with Britney, who had sex with Kenny, who had sex with Jenny, who had sex with Keith.”

As the circle continues, the poem unravels to reveal dark humor, the realities of unprotected sex and fears of being HIV positive, making the poem gripping and haunting.

Lauren Dawson, a junior majoring in international relations and neuroscience, took to the stage and performed a powerful rendition of her poem, “The Letter H” which included a myriad of words beginning with the letter H from hopelessness to homosexuals, honor and hell.

Dawson’s other poems, “Miracle Grow” and “Stop” spoke of the pains of growing up and saying good-bye, as well as the acidic hatred one person can feel toward another.

Nate Howard, a sophomore majoring in communications and a member of the Beat Advocate, a hip-hop group, entertained the audience with his loud, intense rhythm and barely paused to breathe during his performance.

A crowd favorite was the narrative he spun about talking to a girl with bad breath, which unfurled into a metaphor about the dismal conversational skills of some women.

Other notable performances of the night included one by Jade Fields, a junior majoring in psychology, who passionately delivered “Thursdays,” which spoke about her encounters with a “homeless philosopher” on a bus.

Caspar Brun, a freshman majoring in theatre, recited a poem about how poetry was not dead and pointed out that within the walls of Ground Zero, it was certainly still alive and well.

Brendan Troy, a junior majoring in international relations was the only person that night to actually sing a poem during his allotted time.

The natural melody of the poem seemed to resonate with the audience as it watched Troy croon lyrics onstage.

If you missed Wednesday’s poetry slam, there will be another opportunity to get your fill as Visions and Voices, together with Javon Johnson, will host the event “Words in Your Face” on March 3 at Bovard Auditorium.

1 reply
  1. clarification
    clarification says:

    Just a clarification on Lauren’s poetry…her poem “The Letter H” is about the reasons she hates the letter “H”. It talks about things like hate, abuse, homophobia, sexual violence, exploitation, hunger/homelessness, etc.

    Her poem “Miracle Grow” is actually about having to face mortality with her best friend…not really about growing up. And “Stop” is about sexual violence/abuse…it really isn’t about hate at all, but about dealing with the ramifications of things like abuse. Just wanted to clarify that…

Comments are closed.