Acclaimed poet attracts students for poetry reading


Joshua Bennett, presented by the Wick Poetry Center, speaks in Oscar Richie Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. Photo by Chloe Hackathorn

Danielle Hess

Award winning performance poet Joshua Bennett recited original works as a part of the Wick Poetry Center Reading Series Tuesday night.

Terryn Mathis, junior psychology major, opened the performance at the African Community Theatre in Oscar Ritchie Hall with an original snare drum routine. Mathis played from 7:15 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, introduced Bennett to the stage with a short biography of Bennett’s academic and poetic achievements.

Jessica Jewell, Wick Poetry Center program manager, said the poetry center brought Bennett to Kent State to involve more students in Wick Poetry Center events.

“Many students are interested in performance or slam-based poetry,” Jewell said. “I think the event will attract a different crowd of Kent State students.”

The topics of Bennett’s poems ranged from growing up to growing out his hair to poems inspired by mythology and oceanography professors.

Toward the middle of his performance, Bennett read a poem he had written for his girlfriend. The poem began with a line describing the night they met.

“When you handed me your business card, I took it as a sign that we would be platonic forever,” Bennett said. “When a woman kicks game like that, how do you resist?”

Bennett ended the night with a poem he had written about his little brother Levi. He was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3, and the poem describes Bennett’s feelings for his little brother and his personal outlook on Levi’s diagnosis. Bennett dedicated the poem to his brother and to anyone with a disability.

“They keep telling him to think like an assembly line, but his mind works more like a circus,” Bennett said. “Be human, be like me, be a social butterfly.”

Bennett’s performance was followed by a conversation with the audience and a reception with food and refreshments. Bennett signed posters and chatted with attendees during the reception.

Tito Gutierrez, a freshman psychology major, said his favorite poem was Bennett’s poem about his brother.

“It made me think about what my family means to me and how others think about their families,” Gutierrez said.

Bennett is a third-year graduate student at Princeton University, pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He has performed at the Sundance Film Festival, the NAACP Image Awards and President Obama’s Evening of Poetry and Music at the White House, among other prestigious venues throughout his poetic career.

Contact Danielle Hess at [email protected].