The Philly Youth Poetry Movement, a group of award-winning slam poets, performed before a packed house in the Undergrounds Coffeehouse on Friday, as part of the Black Student Union’s continuing celebration of Black History Month.
The event proceeded casually as the four attending members each took a turn on stage.
First was Kai Davis, who said skin color cannot indicate intelligence and encouraged people of color who think of themselves as inferior to start thinking otherwise.
“Fuck I look like? No, really. Fuck I look like?” Davis said. “It’s like you think giving 100 percent means getting 100 lashes.”
Davis, the 2011 champion of the international poetry competition “Brave New Voices” on HBO, wore a tie and blazer and didn’t speak until the beginning of her first poem.
Another former champion, Jamarr Hall, performed later, asking the audience what they thought of his Afro. He began with an original song, and the crowd replied with whistles and snaps.
“I belong amongst the lost,” Hall said. “You see, women use me.”
Hall paced on stage while he talked, as he spoke about his failed love life and lamented his inability to “hold a relationship for longer than an erection.”
Greg Corbin, the founder and executive director of the Philly Youth Poetry Movement, followed Hall. Corbin is an international poet, teacher, writer, motivational speaker, mentor and Philadelphia community leader who has performed for audiences on several continents.
“The only thing that scares fear is desperation, so sometimes, we love desperately, love recklessly,” Corbin said. “Men have hearts, maybe more sensitive than women.”
Poet Yousseff Kromah, who goes by the name Seff Al-Afriqi, followed Davis, asked the audience, “Didn’t your mother warn you of men like me?”
Al-Afriqi tweeted later in the night that the Binghamton University audience was “beautiful and full of life.”
Toward the end, the performers opened up a question-and-answer session for interested audience members. Corbin spoke on behalf of the group, answering questions about what the group did for their community.
Jamila Adams, vice president of the Black Student Union, felt PYPM’s performance fit in perfectly with the “New Age Renaissance” theme to their Black History Month celebration.
“The poets from PYPM are young fresh and are able to use poetry to express themselves,” Adams said. “Many of them started out just attending poetry writing workshops and have gone to win competitions such as HBO’s ‘Brave New Voices.’ So in essence, I wanted people to know that they too could use poetry as an outlet.”
Adams said she loved who PYPM brought to perform this year — an opinion students at the event seemed to shared.
“Kai Davis was really interesting to listen to,” said Montana Ortel, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering. “I have a lot of respect for the fact that she was not at all afraid to voice her opinions.”