Poetry slam aims to bridge gaps and ease tensions

California Baptist University’s Community Life Office held its second poetry slam Jan. 26. In the days leading up to the event, George Martin, director of Cultural and Community Programs with Comm. Life explained the inspiration behind the event and importance of it in light of the current state of affairs in the United States.

Last year’s Poetry Slam featured a guest poet who students showed up to listen to and chat with about various issues. This year, Martin, a CBU alumnus and former Lancer basketball player, said he wanted the poetry slam to be student-driven and an opportunity for students to branch out of their comfort zones and experience something new.

“Let’s go outside of the box and expose our students to something new,” Martin said. “I’m hoping with this poetry slam that those who have a passion for poetry or those that enjoy this event will look forward to the next one and we can make this thing an
annual event.”

For Martin, the opportunity to plan and coordinate the Poetry Slam is just one of his passions when it comes to
serving students.

“I’m a former student. I graduated from here and I’m proud to be able to work here and service the next generation of leaders,” Martin said.

The Poetry Slam included students from the Poetry Club at CBU as well as independent students. The night also featured two popular poets—Brandon Allen and Treesjee Thomas—who performed both separate and collaborative pieces.

The event also featured a local recording artist and a student artist who drew pictures representing the poems while the students and guest speakers presented. A festive and laid-back atmosphere was the goal.

While the night was about the art of poetry and music and bringing people together, the theme reached far beyond that.

Martin addressed the social and political issues facing the country at this time. He said that he sees the poetry slam as a platform for these issues.

“There is a lot of tension,” Martin said. “The reality is that a lot of minorities are feeling uneasy because of the racial tensions have risen in our country.  It’s something from which we can’t hide. But the best thing to do is ask, ‘How do we as believers come together as one body and be a beacon of light to our dark world?’ That’s where this comes in. It’s about taking the time to understand from where people
are coming.”

With the theme “Living Out the Dream” and the subtopic “Love Overcomes Hate,” the Poetry Slam saw an opportunity for students to bridge the gaps between one another.

“We naturally gravitate toward people we’re comfortable with,” Martin said. “You see the athletes with the athletes, the engineering students with the engineering students. Even when I went here, although it was smaller it was the same way.”

The theme of unity could not have come at a better time as the current events and political situation in the United States have raised issues of controversy.

“It’s easy for us to avoid things,” Martin said. “We can get caught up in our own little bubble and not realize the reality of the world around us. You see the protests and there’s a lot of unrest in our country and we can’t ignore it because that’s the world in which we’re living. The poetry slam is another way of bringing that to our consciousness and saying we have these issues but it’s all right.”

Martin said the inspiration behind the event is the idea of students coming together to appreciate the arts as well as the relationships with each other.

“The ‘why’ is really about celebrating differences and embracing them,” he said.

About Jasmine Emeish

Staff Writer

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