The Purpose of Poetry

By Ti’Anna Davis

The small containers filled with rice are shaking. Fingers are snapping. Heartbeats of the crowd are racing. One mic and one amplifier. One hundred eyes on one person who stands in the center of the room ready to pour out his or her soul as soulful music plays in the background.

This is what poetry slam is all about.

Poetry slam is more than sharing a story, it brings various people together from diverse backgrounds to share and support some of their deepest and darkest experiences in the most creative way. For some people it is a career, a hobby or just therapy.

Every Thursday night at 7 p.m., poets and musical performers come together in one safe-haven, a room in University of South Florida’s Marshall Center building.

Rebecca Lee, a USF student and vice president of The Poets at USF club, discussed the importance of poetry slam which is also referred to as open mic.

“Open mic is not only for poets, it is any form of expression,” Lee said. “This is a safe place and very intimate community that is non-judgmental and not only opened to the university but other poets in the community… most of the poets don’t go to this university.”

The Poets at USF club started about 15 years ago, founded by a student and Walter B. Jennings who worked at USF.

Lee refers to The Poets at USF club as “T.P. Poets.” T.P. Poets are certain individuals who have been shown recognition for their involvement and commitment in the club. They have been noticed for their poetry because of their passion and work ethic.

What makes this poetry club intriguing is how it welcomes anyone no matter his or her age, gender, race or beliefs to come and present.

Each week the club has a specific theme that poets can base their artistry. On Sept. 13, the theme for the night was Curiosity’s Abyss.

The audience welcomed several performers who expressed their feelings in numerous ways such as singing, rapping and storytelling.

Despite the theme for the night, some poets talked about political issues occurring in the world, relationships and personal experiences.  Each performance left the crowd feeling different emotions like empathy, joy and in awe.

One poet, Yuki Jackson, presented three poems called “Birth,” “Sex” and “I’m on 10,000.” Jackson’s voice was somber and dramatic. She discussed God, Buddhism, women and men that left everyone speechless. Their eyes were fixated on her the entire time.

“This experience is very inspirational,” said Adrian Galvin, a member of the audience. “It’s like a breath of fresh air.”

Poets are relatable because they often speak about concepts and realistic experiences that the audience share. They also motivate others to perfect their own craft. In poetry slam, the relationship between the poet and the audience is vital. The individual feels the energy from the crowd which makes the message of the poem more influential.

“I spend too much time stuffing messages into bottles trying to reach someone,” said Scorpio Vision, a poet and photographer for the club. “I want to reach someone.”