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Cal Poly’s MultiCultural Center (MCC) will present poet Brian “SuperB” Oliva at this month’s Another Type of Groove (ATOG) event on May 7 to celebrate Asian Pacific Islander Month.
Oliva is the 2009 and 2010 Inland Empire Grand Slam Champion and 2012 feature poet of Poetry and Music TV1 series “Verses and Flow.”
ATOG is held on the Wednesday of each month, features a different poet and celebrates a different heritage each month. The core of the event is spoken-word poetry.
“Each performer brings a different vibe, excited or mellow, (and) the topics that they touch on will vary in range,” ATOG Coordinator and biological sciences sophomore Brianti Williams said. “They do some general poetry, stuff from the heart and some related to their culture.”
There is also an open mic, where any audience member can come up and perform.
“Students get to come and feel like this is a space where they can open up, get things off of their chest, share their work and what is important to them as well,” Williams said. “Everybody is different and brings something different. It’s not all the same type of poetry (or) same poems, and the students don’t have to focus on that theme of celebrating that heritage if they don’t want to, they just come bring their own work or come to listen.”
Being focused on various heritages helps ATOG bring diversity to the performances.
“The MCC sponsors it because it’s really a place where diverse students can come together and really bring their culture, background, opinions about current events and can express that in this safe space and open mic forum,” MCC assistant coordinator Que Dang said.
Oliva, who is Filipino, shares his struggle of finding his heritage in some of his work.
“I didn’t always associate myself with Pacific Islander or Filipino, because I grew up in a place where I was the only one and I didn’t really have a group to connect with it,” he said. “Some of my poetry has to do with my identity issues.”
ATOG is a place where students and performers like Oliva can feel comfortable and can be heard.
“Everybody understands that if they are in that space, they need to have an open mind,” Williams said. “It’s always nerve-wracking to perform, especially if you’re a first-time performer. I feel like once people give ATOG a chance, they realize that they have the opportunity to just feel comfortable there.”
This is not the first time Oliva will perform at an ATOG event. The poet came last May, and is a really great poet and performer, Williams said.
“I love his poetry because it is very soulful; a lot of what he talks about in his poetry are things that express what makes him feel at peace, happy, what connects us all together and what connects us to the world,” she said.
Oliva aims to do just that — connect and make a difference.
“For anybody that performs, it kind of turns into a drug, because people are telling you ‘Oh, you’re telling my story, I really connected,’” Oliva said. “It becomes way bigger than you and I think being on stage is one addiction, but the other addiction is knowing that you are making or hoping to make little bit of a difference.”
Oliva brings an element of uniqueness to his performance. Part of that uniqueness is incorporating music into his poetry.
“On top of that he’s pretty funny, too, he sneaks little things into his poetry,” Williams said. “His poetry has a lot of surprise turns in it, I think, that are really great for a performer to have. Just to capture an audience and at the same time it is not meaningless, all of his poems have meaning to them.”
In his performance last year, he brought a calm and peaceful aura to the audience, Williams said.
“I expect people to get some laughs out of his poetry and probably come out of there thinking about where they are in life spiritually,” Williams said.
Oliva hopes to spread inspiration and hope, and to be inviting through his writing so it can inspire conversation and greater things.
ATOG will take place in the Chumash Auditiorium in the Julian A. McPhee University Union at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.