NAACP preparing for Def Poetry Slam

Aaron Kinney

Event will feature Haiti fundraiser

With the NAACP Founder’s Day approaching, Kent State’s chapter is preparing for its Def Poetry Slam.

The Poetry Slam is a spoken word poetry event held in celebration of more than 100 years of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s activism. The event will take place at 7 p.m. on Feb. 8 in the Kiva.

“This will be our 101st year as a national organization and our 13th year here at Kent State University,” said Robin Wright, junior pan-African studies major and president of the NAACP’s Kent State chapter.

For that, Wright said, the NAACP aims to bring in something that will drum up excitement among the students. The Poetry Slam will feature artists Black Ice and Sunni Patterson, spoken word poets who have appeared on HBO’s award-winning “Def Poetry Jam” series.

Courtney Lipkins, freshman nursing major and event programmer, said Patterson and Black Ice will speak about success and make dedications to Haiti during their performances.

The artists aren’t the only ones making a dedication to Haiti. The Poetry Slam will feature a 10-minute video dedication and a raffle, the proceeds of which will fund Haiti earthquake relief.

Joey Pompignano, senior news major, will host the event alongside Wright and perform spoken word of his own. Pompignano has performed at Cleveland venues like Karamu House and The Cleveland Play House.

“It’s an honor and a humbling experience to be able to host NAACP’s Founder’s Day celebration,” Pompignano said.

Pompignano, who has participated in NAACP- and Black United Students-sponsored events, said he didn’t expect to have a major role in the event until Wright called him and asked if he would mind hosting.

“I said, ‘OK, sure. What does hosting it entail?’” Pompignano said. “She just said, ‘You know, you’re just gonna introduce Black Ice and Sunni Patterson.’”

“Those are two poets that I just absolutely admire,” Pompignano said of Patterson and Black Ice, whose works contain themes prominent throughout the black experience, from personal struggles to family.

“I know that one of Black Ice’s pieces that I really like is about the absence of a father figure in his life,” Pompignano said.

Another poem details Black Ice’s wishes to spend more time with his daughter.

As for what sort of poetry will be presented, Wright said Patterson and Black Ice don’t have any particular constraints, as long as it’s “empowering” and “uplifting to the community.”

Wright said Kent State’s NAACP chapter has been focusing throughout the planning stages on its six main principles: unifying, motivating, advocating, leading, educating and believing.

“Those really are the main focuses, and we’re hoping that we can, through this form of entertainment, enrich our community,” Wright said.

Planning began in the middle of the fall semester. During that time, the NAACP had to reserve a location, allocate funds and choose artists.

Planning concluded about two months ago, Lipkins said, and the only change since then was the addition of the Haiti presentation and raffle.

Contact ethnic affairs reporter Aaron Kinney

at [email protected].