Raised voices

Christina Stavale

Harambee hosts Open Mic Night in the Rathskeller

Arthur Johnson, senior english major, performs his own rap during Harambee’s first Open Mic Night at the Rathskeller last night. Harambee is a student group associated with the Pan-African Studies department. DANIEL OWEN | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Quiera Lige, sophomore psychology and criminal justice major, first found her inspiration for poetry when she was 8 years old and her parents got divorced. Since then, she said she has used poetry as an outlet when she is going through a difficult time in life.

Last night in the Rathskeller, she and about a dozen others shared their poetry during Harambee’s Open Mic Night.

Harambee is an organization that allows students to express their culture through art, said Adrian Neal, president of the organization. Once a month, the organization hosts these events to allow students to say anything they would like.

“A lot of people don’t have that chance to say, ‘this is what’s on my mind,'” Neal said.

Neal, who read some of his own poetry last night, said his favorite part about poetry is expressing his work vocally, and the main inspiration for his work was his aunt.

“She’s the one who let me know what was in me and about my spiritual life,” he said.

Inspiration came from a variety of places for everyone performing.

Junior finance major Bryan Gadson, for example, read a poem titled “Love at First Sight,” and said he was inspired by his young cousin who recently told him about his first crush. Much of the inspiration for his poetry, he said, comes from little things he notices from other people.

“The more you talk to other people, and the more conversations you have, the more ideas you get,” Gadson said.

Lige, on the other hand, read a poem about a bad relationship she was in a few months ago. She said she uses poetry to express herself because it allows her to get more in touch with herself and see what she is going through in life.

“If people can relate to (poetry), that’s a plus,” she said. “And I feel like everyone can relate to a bad relationship.”

Junior journalism major Tyra Flowers said her poetry deals with different struggles she has gone through in life, and when sharing her poetry with others, she hopes it can act as a guide for someone.

“I come here not only to share my poetry. Poetry is a form of therapy,” Flowers said. “We have a lot of people who have gone through different things in life.”

Like many of the other poets who shared their work last night, Flowers said writing is her passion and that poetry is special to her because it comes from her own life and experiences.

“Nobody in the whole world can give you what I can give through my writing,” she said.

While most of the Open Mic Night consisted of poetry readings, Neal encouraged people to hold nothing back, and say anything. Rants about President Bush, the university, and personal lives were welcomed and occurred.

“This is your chance to say anything,” he said. “We hold no bars here.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].