Event supports student expression

Alexis M. Johnson, Staff Writer

Speak Out Loud, the premiere event for spoken word expression, was held Tuesday, Sept. 14 in the Heyward Community Center.

The event, sponsored by Residence Life and Iota Phi Theta fraternity, was proposed because some felt there was no outlet for students to express their minds.

“I felt as if we needed to have something on a regular schedule to allow students and residents the opportunity to voice and express themselves through poetry and spoken word- anything that’s in their minds,” Terence Jackson, assistant director of Residence Life said.

The event stemmed from a similar one hosted by resident assistants called S.E.P.I.A (spoken expressions provided in an intimate atmosphere).

Speak Out Loud featured different types of verbal expression ranging from different genres of poetry, to songs and even “rants.”

Rants are modes of expression where the individual clears his or her mind of any issue that may be currently affecting them or has in the past.

“I do feel it’s very important to just speak how you feel – not being scared to voice your opinion, whether it’s about the cats on campus or just anything that’s going on,” Jackson said.

The night featured many modes of expression and opinions, including a large amount from the host, Chris “The Poet” Fleming.

Fleming, a member of Iota Phi Theta, is also a popular poet across many venues and is currently rated the number four poet in Columbia.

“People look forward to his poetry because he is very vocal and he is very outspoken and he is also a published author as well,” Jackson said.

Fleming opened the night with his poem, “He Wrote It On His Face.” Throughout the night, he recited other poetry such as “The Recruitment,” “Woman,” “What Happened” and the erotic “Tongue-Play.”

Fleming’s poetry reflected two important points of the evening. For one, while there is no theme to spoken word, the night’s poetry seemed to center around true love, or the lack thereof, and the misconstrued view of what true love really is. One individual even “ranted” about why true love no longer exists.

Another point apparent throughout the evening was that for timid individuals, spoken word events are not a safe haven.

“It spoke the truth about controversial issues,” sophomore Wesley Bivens said.

Some of these controversial issues included the current state of African American males, individuals’ lack of respect for themselves and others, sexual abuse and why sex and love seem to have no distinguishing factor in modern times.

However, the night did not contain completely controversial messages. Many of the messages were about how to uplift other individuals and the importance of challenging one’s mindset, especially during college. Also important was the self-empowerment of African Americans.

While the night featured many topics relatable to African Americans, spoken word blurs the lines of cultural differences.

“A lot of people look at spoken word poetry as a ‘black thing,’ but it’s a universal thing,” Jackson said.

The universal feeling resonated well with many of the attendees, with audience members clapping, cheering and performing the somewhat stereotypical snapping of spoken word events to support the artists of the evening.

“The environment was very inviting,” freshman Antwionette Preddy said.

Speak Out Loud will be hosted on an alternating schedule on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event will rotate between Heyward Community Center and The Grille to reach more individuals and to determine the best venue for hosting the event.

To find out more about Speak Out Loud, contact the Office of Housing and Residence Life. To learn more about Chris “The Poet” Fleming, visit www.reverbnation.com.