First-year Diamond McDonald “spat fire” in Watson Forum Tuesday night as part of the first annual R.E.A.L Smooth Poetry Jam.
McDonald was part of nine other students that slammed, read, sang and rapped poetry from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media.
The event was co-hosted by DePauw’s R.E.A.L Poetry Club and the Elegua Chapter of Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity Inc.
The special guest judge was Assistant Professor of English at DePauw, Karin Wimbley, along with Lambda Sigma Upsilon member from New York David Quioñas and senior John Yates. The judges were in charge of deciding who would win the “R.E.A.L.I.S.T Poet” and “R.E.A.L.I.S.T Musician” of the night.
Quioñas also read three original poems.
The contestants were judged on three criteria of performance: articulation, body language and how they present it overall.
McDonald and Sophomore Jerald Parks won the awards. McDonald read an original poem entitled, “I Hate White Privilege,” commenting on privilege in our society.
Parks did a slow rap over a Miles Green instrumental.
“My piece was untitled, but I think I just came up with a title, ‘Colors’,” said Parks as he took the stage.
The contestants were awarded with trophies, Bluetooth speakers and gift cards to Amazon.com.
The club also put up an online poll where students could vote for their favorite performers and the winner was crowned the Peoples’ Champ. This award went to sophomore Onyi Awani.
Awani also won second place for R.E.A.L.I.S.T Musician and sophomore Justine Clarke won runner up R.E.A.L.I.S.T Poet.
The event has been in the works since March, when sophomore Howard Robinson and his planning committee got together to create an event where people could feel safe reading their poems.
“I wanted this to be a place where people could express their raw emotions and be rewarded by the crowd and other prizes,” said Robinson. “It’s about feeling, emotion and understanding.”
R.E.A.L Poetry was started by Robinson this past school year and it has seen immense growth in the last year.
R.E.A.L stands for Resonating Experiences from All our Lives.
Watson Forum was almost full on Tuesday night for the event.
“I came because there were a lot of talented people that have very different ways of representing what they want to say and what’s in their hearts,” said sophomore Nancy Campos. “My favorite part was Onyi and her song because she has an amazing voice.”
Robinson was happy with the turn out and thought the event was very successful.
“I was most happy with the reception performers got,” said Robinson. “I’m glad they were well received and felt comfortable with sharing their poetry.”
While this was the first event of its kind, the club and brothers of Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity hope to continue the event in years to come.
Excerpt from Jerald Parks' poem
One word with four letters
At each corner of the earth
That you have to go fetch
Love is an imagination.
Hearts swoon and tides crash.
It knows no boundaries between
Young, old. Rich, poor. Gay, straight.
I loved once.
A drive through motel
That you could just make
Love to and walk out the next day,
Leaving me vacant.