National Slam Poetry Champion Shihan will be performing for Another Type of Groove’s (ATOG) celebration of Black History Month this Wednesday from 7:30 to 10 p.m. in the Chumash Auditorium. Shihan, most known for being apart of HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, uses his own life experiences giving his poetry an element of sincerity.
Student coordinator of Black History Month Shauna Kimball has been a fan of Shihan’s for 5 years ever since she saw him on Def Jam Poetry.
“Shihan’s poetry is really relatable, everyone can grasp some type of emotion from it,” Kimball said.
With poems that often talk about his wife and children, he also writes poetry that serves a purpose. From poverty and capitalism to institutional racism, Shihan brings to light the injustices in the world as well as the little things that can easily be taken for granted.
“Love and heartbreak, the good and the bad, is what Shihan speaks about. My favorite poem of his is called ‘This Type Love.” It will probably make me cry,” Kimball said.
Opening “This Type Love,” with lyrics, “I want a love that makes me wait until she falls asleep then wonder if she is dreaming about us being in love, type love,” the poem, which takes 3 minutes to perform, goes on to explain the rest of the types of love he wants. Shihan ends the poem talking about his wife and the love he has found with her.
Shihan grew up in New York’s Lower East Side and began his writing career in 1989, which he used to get a scholarship to Williston North Hampton School for Creative Writing. After signing with MGA Records in 1993, Shihan wrote for the video game NBA Jam Session series and the theme for Reebok’s “Blacktop” campaign. The first poet to be named iTunes “Download of the week,” Shihan was also a part of the writing and performing for MTV’s Rock the Vote campaign and Schoolhouse Rocks videos. Assistant Coordinator of the MultiCultural Center Bryn Smith said she was happy to get Shihan for Black History Month since he is such a powerful speaker.
“We are really looking forward to hearing him perform here. His reputation as an outstanding, captivating performer precedes him, we’re really excited about having him on stage, because he is very much in demand,” Smith said.
Being in demand as a poet has prompted Shihan to go on a college-based poetry tour, from the University of Georgia to the University of Arizona. He has also hosted the nation’s largest open mic called Da’ Poetry Lounge in Hollywood for the past seven years, while also being apart of HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, as a Talent Coordinator as well as a performer.
“I’m co-hosting the event, with Adonna Anderson, so I’m super juiced to meet him,” Kimball said.
With two open mics and two sets of performances by Shihan there is availability for students and non-students to read their poetry. Student Program Coordinator Michelle Fox said a lot of people write poetry but may not have a place to read it out loud, which Another Type Of Groove provides.
“Another Type of Groove is very different from anything else available on campus, people are openly displaying emotion,” Fox said. “The poets are usually in the crowds, or at the merchandise table. They are often very approachable.”
Another Type of Groove has been around since 2000 when the MultiCultural Center and Student Life & Leadership created the program to introduce diversity related issues through the spoken word. The mission of ATOG is to create open space for the interchange of ideas, beliefs and personal expression as well as actively and artistically engaging in issues of diversity.
This will be the first time Shihan has performed for Cal Poly’s ATOG.