By: Olivia Fratangeli, Contributing Writer
“This skin is a battlefield,” recited Jacob Mayberry, also known as Black Chakra or J. Tesla, to an intimate audience. Along with two other poets, Mayberry’s spoken word poetry echoed around the Chesapeake rooms during “Rhymes Against Rage: Through the Fire” on Sept. 15.
Sponsored by the Center for Student Diversity, the performance and discussion centered on themes of race and identity and featured spoken word poetry by writers Kenneth Morrison, Mercedez Holtry and Jasmine Mans, in addition to Mayberry.
Mans has been writing poetry since she was seven years old.
“I used to have to write for an orator class as a kid, and I didn’t like it,” Mans said. “My writing came out of rebellion.”
Mans, who is inspired by artists like Tupac, Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni, said she first wrote to “win,” but now writes to be thoughtful. Mans’ poems “Dear Ex-Lover” and “Footnotes for Kanye” drew noticeable reaction from the crowd.
“Be consistent,” Mans said to up-and-coming writers. “Commit to writing, commit to writing the truth.”
Freshman Nicole Banks said that she anticipated the serious content and nature of some performances.
“I knew it was going to be emotional because all the spoken word was about race,” Banks said.
Womanist United President Breya Johnson, also the Student Government Association’s assistant director of health and wellness, said that she was inspired by Mans and proud of the turnout for the spoken word event. Although the crowd was small, Johnson said that she believes that people who attending the readings were meant to be there.
“It was everything I thought it would be,” Johnson said.