The Paul Robeson Cultural Center’s annual spoken word event, “The Stoop,” brought poets and performers alike to the HUB-Robeson Center’s Heritage Hall Thursday night.
PRCC Director Carlos Wiley and PRCC Assistant Director Kristen Wong said the theme of the night was to promote the concepts of diversity, social justice, activism and empowering students in a different form than just having a keynote speaker.
Wong later said, “I think the free food is a big draw.”
Starting with an audience of about 70 people, Courtney Neal (junior-broadcast), the master of ceremonies, brought up spoken word artist Arlene Contreras (junior-crime, law and justice)for the first act.
Contreras started off the event with a lighter tone as she performed a poem about getting to know someone new and in turn discussing personal experiences.
Three members of the Penn State Belly Dance Club then took the stage. Multiple performers throughout the night alluded to this act as they warmed up.
They were followed by student and local singers and spoken word poets throughout the event.
Professional spoken word poets Adriel Luis as well as Janine Simon, M.C. K~Swift, and Angel Nafis of Brave New Voices, a spoken word organization, also took the stage. Each performed individual poems before returning to the stage to do a set.
While varying in topic and delivery, majority of these spoken word performances discussed racism, sexism and multiple other topics.
All performers were received loud applause by the audience. One act that received a very excited reaction was the new student a capella group The Coda Conduct.
The Coda Conduct performed “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes, as well as a mash up of “Turn Me On” by David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj and “Where Have You Been” by Rihanna.
As more acts joined the stage, the crowd diminished in size until about one-third of the original crowd was left.
The night ended sets of poems by Simon, Swift, Nafis, and Luis.
Prior to the show, Luis said he wanted to incorporate multiple issues such as these that are not as readily discussed in less-populated areas. He hoped to incorporate them in an organic way that would allow students to see these issues without being too jarring.
Some students attending the event saw it as a culturally empowering night that is not often seen on campus.
Student Aisha Stanton and Brayana Dudley said the event empowered them personally.
“On this campus, there’s not too many of me,” Stanton (senior-health policy administration) said, regarding her cultural heritage.
“It’s nice to have events were you can relate to someone [personally], not just as a Penn State student,” Dudley (senior-biobehavioral health) said, echoing Stanton’s sentiment.