Poet Prentice Powell will take the stage in Chumash Auditorium on Feb. 5 for the Another Type of Groove: Spoken Word Poetry event.
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Poet and educator Prentice Powell will step onto Chumash Auditorium’s stage for the fifth time on Feb. 5 for the Another Type of Groove: Spoken Word Poetry event. It is part of the MultiCultural Center’s (MCC) celebration of Black History Month.
The poet known for tackling racial and social issues hosted Anthem — the MCC’s slam poetry competition — this past year and in 2012. He also performed as the featured poet for Another Type of Groove (ATOG) in 2009 and 2011.
“He does a lot of work around his own identity as a black man and his poetry is really incorporating those issues of his experience and what some of his thoughts are on different social, political, racial issues,” Assistant Coordinator of the MultiCultural Center Que Dang said.
Powell has performed on Verses and Flow, is the 2006 Oakland and San Francisco Grand Slam Champion and 2010 East Bay Express Best Poet.
“We really try to bring in up-and-coming poets or poets that are somewhat famous,” Dang said. “He has been on ‘Arsenio Hall’ and he has traveled quite a bit.”
Brianti Williams, student assistant at the MultiCultural Center and biological sciences sophomore, has seen him perform before and has been following his poetry for a while.
“He is a really strong poet,” Brianti said. “He is doing a lot of really great things right now, so I guess I am honored that he is going to come to Cal Poly.”
One of his most famous poems is “The System,” in which he is “society” personified pointing out all the flaws almost robotically.
“It makes you think about the things in society that people see as a normal or regular thing when they shouldn’t be normal or regular because people should be held to a higher standard,” Brianti said. “He brings those things to light and makes you want to live to a higher standard.”
Powell’s poems influence the audience to reflect on their own actions and thoughts in relation to how it affects the larger picture.
“He is a very influential figure and very positive role model,” Brianti said. “He points out the truth and I guess that is what I like most about poetry in general is that honesty really comes to light and I think he really does a great job of being true to himself and true to his poetry.”
This ATOG comes in the middle of a stressful time for most Cal Poly students.
“This (ATOG) is exciting to me because it’s one of the first ones we have had in a while — our last one was in November,” Brianti said. “This is midterm season, so it is a good time for people to come back together, get things off of their chest and have a chance to really be who they are without worrying about all the stress that is going on.”
Students can take the mic in the beginning of the show to perform their own poems, songs, comedy or any other form of artistic expression.
“We have this draw of a feature poet, but I think our biggest draw is that students can come and here other poets express themselves,” Dang said. “People are beat boxing, singing, rapping, incorporating music with poetry. It is really a form of cultural expression.”
The event is open to all students who would like to participate and hear poetry from Powell and the student body.
“I love the diversity in the room,” Dang said. “I feel like it is one of the few places that happens on campus where you have greeks, athletes, Writing Collective and students that have no affiliation that come together for their love of expression.”
Dang’s favorite part of ATOG is hearing the talent students possess.
“What I find amazing is that we can walk around campus wearing our Cal Poly shirts, and you don’t know anyone’s personality,” Dang said. “At ATOG, a person will come up to the mic and this person will bust out with this amazing poetry or art expression. You just think ‘Wow, I never knew you could do that or have that personality because that person is so shy in class.’”
Industrial engineering freshman Aaron Williams attended ATOG this past quarter for the first time and enjoyed the open mic portion the best.
“I like the fact that it gives the student body the ability to have their voice heard,” Aaron said. “It felt like a very safe place.”
ATOG will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Chumash Auditorium, and admission is free.