Donning plastic leis, the performers from last Thursday’s Listen Up scholarship fundraiser sashayed onto the wooden stage, weighing their words and steps with the fiery ambition of rock stars. Of the 19 poets performing, six were adults. The adults were a mix of MFA students, teachers and an Upward Bound Alumni. They came to the Student Union with family and friends to take the stage, fill the room up with poetry and performance, and shout out their truths. At Upward Bound’s 7th annual poetry slam Listen Up, the theme for the night was, “It won’t stop because it’s meant to be.” An excerpt from a student poem, the student’s words seemed to transcend the theme.
When the poets interpreted the theme, applying their own experiences and personality, their poems showed careful reflection. Often, through their pieces, the poets interrogated the audience’s complacency, encouraging them to stand up or shed a tear.
After the last poet spoke, all 19 performers re-emerged to end with a final collective piece. Elaborating on the evening’s theme, the students injected the essence of their poetry into the final presentation. As “Kermit,” the last poet spoke, “It won’t stop because hip-hop’s meant to be so you should all buy my CDs and support…” His voice was drowned out by one last eruption of laughter.