Saturday, May 10, 2008

people come and go, but the vibe remains the same

last night was my final spoken word open mic. all week i've stressed a little about the details, the AV, the DJ, the food, the setup, the list, the seniors spotlighted. i also stressed because of the conflicts our event had with others; the female orgasm seminar would be overlapping for the first hour of our show, VES film screenings were happening all night, the Leverett Formal was rockin up the Hyatt that night. but, round wednesday, i realized that whatever the event would be, it would be lovely.

in the past spoken word gatherings filled the kirkland jcr, this large room of rich wood and lush couches and seating. we've usually filled the space. but last night we had a small gathering, at least at first. but it was okay, it was great actually. it was small, it was intimate. i was emceeing the night, trying to be funny, to some avail, but otherwise soaking up the strength of the voices and the images of the poets coming up to the mic. some poets i knew and had worked with, others i and most of the audience had never heard before. oke was even back to perform, leaving his trademark jovial sonorous voice, offering us, once again, the continual supernova of thoughtful expression in his work. jose rocked the beats, liza shared her delicate verse, anna shared her wit, jack whipped out another poem from memory, james brought power. but it was all a wonderful ride, personal, deep, playful, funny, poignant, evocative. over the course of the night, i realized that the vibe of that room, the vibe amongst people expressing themselves, that vibe never changed over the last 4 years.

spoken word has always been a nurturing, warm, open and lovely environment. my fellow senior katie said it best, spoken word was a group of people offering support to each other through expression and creativity. such a beautiful thing. i left in disbelief. i was the last person to be in kirkland jcr that night, the room gone silent again after such beauty of expression. and that was it. i came home not knowing what to feel, knowing that regardless of the honors i receive when i graduate or the prizes i do or do not win, spoken word has been such a valuable, nurturing space. and once again, as always it refreshed me. it may not have been the buzzing packed scene as in years past last night, but the vibe was definitely the same. i read with confidence, works from my past 3-4 years at Harvard up until the most recent works of poetry created for a class this semester. they ranged from love poems (or lack of love), odes to venice, and a commentary on facebook. below i share the poem that caused the most stir, continuing the sharing in a new arena... leaving the Word in the hands of another class of poets, because my time has come to an end.


You shut the door to the cold outside and shed
your wool layers, peeling back to the core
of the onion. I watch the heat of your body
radiating outwards like the haze of exhaust fumes
from an airplane. I imagine the skin
tones of your flesh beginning to permeate
the threshold of your body. And I see
pigment spreading like the cyclic cloud of cream
in coffee, allowing itself to dance into neutral
colorless territory. The ink of your skin
tone wanders its way towards me like the very
liquid black of my father’s pen sketching
on napkins, following patterns, losing definition.

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