Poets Pop-Off at Lyricist Lounge

Daleyn Brown (shown above) was behind USF’s first Black student music showcase which will take place again this April. Photo by Kaleb Martinez/ SF FOGHORN

“Who’s voice is important to you?” It could be that of a friend, your mother, or the oppressed. For poets who took the mic at last week’s Lyricist Lounge on UC 4, it was all of the above. 

The Intercultural Center hosts monthly Lyricist Lounge nights, where students have the opportunity to take to the stage, show off their poetic material and tap into their artistic sides. This month’s rendition was in honor of Black History Month. 

The UC 4 lounge was transformed into a poet’s sanctuary with dimmed lighting and a makeshift stage — featuring a black curtain and paper made tree, which performers stood under as they recited their work. Titles of the night’s performances included “A Letter to my Future Daughter” and “A Village Called Perth.”

Mikayla Bell, who performed “I’m Not a Love Poet,” is a fine arts major with a minor in African American studies, but outside of schoolwork she puts her pen to paper and creates poetry whenever inspiration strikes. “I really like open mics and the intensity of the small crowd, especially the callbacks — it’s nice to hear from the crowd.”

Audience members showered performers with snaps after every act to show support. If a poet was giving new material, the audience would call “new shit,” or “old shit,” for material that wasn’t new to the performer’s ears, but was to others. 

On what inspired her not-a-love poem, Bell said, “It was not about the person, but just how I love, and showcasing that infatuation and carelessness.” She continued, “That’s why I think poetry is really cool, because you can document raw stages of your own mind in your own words. So like, at the time, I was really in love.” 

In his welcome speech at the opening of the event, Delayn Brown said, “The goal of tonight is to find our voices… especially Black voices.” Brown, a senior international business major and music minor, works in the Intercultural Center and organizes all the Lyricist Lounges of the school year. 

“I think it is very important that this is a student planned event, because of the possibility of collaborating with other organizations, and because students like to see other students, instead of a teacher,” Brown continued. 

Brown ended the intimate evening by leading the audience of around 20 people through a practice called Isaang Bagsak. The term, meaning “one down” in Tagalog, is the name of a practice adopted from anti-martial law activists in the Philippines. It starts with a community member clapping at a slow tempo, then more people join in as the pace picks up, until eventually all members of the community are clapping together in a loud, powerful unison that you could feel in your chest. The sentiment behind the practice, according to Brown is “when one falls, all fall. When one rises, all rise.”

Follow the Cultural Center on Instagram @ccusfca to learn more about other events taking place for Black History Month, and the rest of the semester. 

Editor’s Note: Foghorn Opinion Editor Chisom Okorafor performed at the Lyricist Lounge. 

Editor-in-Chief: Megan Robertson, Chief Copy Editor: Sophia Siegel, Managing Editor: Jordan Premmer, Scene Editor: Inés Ventura

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