The spoken word group Climbing Poetree performed for a packed house at the Student Union on Nov. 7, on the last stop of their national tour.
During their performance, the duo who comprise the group, Alixa and Naima, announced that they would be retiring many of their favorite poems throughout the night before embarking on their new two-woman show entitled, “Hurricane Season: The Hidden Words in Water.”.
At the beginning of their show, the duo announced that this performance would be the last time they performed many of their poems. They also made sure to make point of their love of the Bay Area and Mills and how they longed to stay in the area for as long as possible.
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Climbing Poetree was a big hit at Mills College. There was an enormous turnout at the performance and the Student Union was filled with so many chairs that some students were forced to stand during the show.
Alixa began the performance with a pan flute and beat box piece. With a quiet Mills crowd watching, she stopped in the middle to say, “Y’all can clap along!” with a laugh.
During the performance, Naima said that she hoped their poetry would “spark discussion to find solutions beyond [the] survival [of people of color in the United States].”
The performance came with more than spoken word poetry: it also showcased their project called, “Stitch,” which is a quilt of more than 3,000 simple cotton squares with testimonies of people’s life experiences.
They have been gathering these squares for over two years and ask every audience on the tour stops to contribute. A portion of the quilt spanned the Student Union as a background for their performance.
According to both Alixa and Naima, their performance at Mills was emotional because they were retiring some of their favorite poetry pieces, which ranged in topic from sex to appreciating oneself.
The retirement of these pieces was due to their upcoming tour that will focus on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The fifty-six city, multimedia tour, “Hurricane Season: The Hidden Messages in Water,” will begin in 2008.
Alixa prefaced her performance with the history of the poem she performed. She said the poem, Diamond, was written while she was in South Africa. She “labored over the piece for hours and hours without food or water” and “will be the closest thing to childbirth” for her.
A poem with explicit lines about lesbian sex was a crowd favorite: there was loud stamping and cheering at the end of the poem.
The poem that sparked their upcoming tour focused on Hurricane Katrina. Originally 21 pages Alixa and Naima managed to cut it down to 18 pages.
They performed seven of the pages at the performance and said the original piece is available in their upcoming book, for which they did not give a title.
There was an extended applause at the conclusion of the poem.
Alixa and Naima were unavailable to comment on their performance due to their quick return to Brooklyn after the show.
Their hour and a half long performance was concluded with another extended standing ovation mixed with stomping and cheering. Many audience members hugged and thanked Alixa and Naima.
After the show, they sold multicolored T-shirts they had silkscreened themselves along with their CDs.
For more information on Climbing Poetree and their works, please visit their website climbingpoetree.com