Arts, On Campus

‘Living In Color’ Poetry Event Celebrates The Black Experience With Powerful Performances

Poetry met passion on Thursday night in the Vanderslice Hall Cabaret Room as a series of Black poets read poems about their life experiences, and self-love during Living In Color: Spoken Word Poetry Night

The spoken word poetry night was a part of Living in Color, a two-part series of Black performing arts events for Black History Month organized by Angus Williams, MCAS ’25. The second event of Living In Color is a musical performance on Feb. 11 where Williams, who goes by the stage name CARAMEL, will perform alongside other Black artists.

After an introduction to the event from CARAMEL, three poets took the audience by storm. 

The first performer was Benedita Zalabantu, MCAS ’25. She kicked off the night with poems about herself and her experience growing up as a Black American. She highlighted her connection with her brother in her poem “Drop of Melanin and Blood.” Zalabantu’s ability to instill emotion—whether it be joy, sadness, or fear—into her words elevated her poetry to a new level.

Second up was Weatherspoon, a guest poet who kept the audience engaged with their poetry. Weatherspoon’s words continuously elicited snaps and claps from the audience as the poet discussed the ups and downs of their life.

In between poems, Weatherspoon regularly interacted with the audience. A memorable moment of the night was when Weatherspoon instructed listeners to turn to their neighbor and express self-love. The request connected to the theme of the poem but also helped the audience to connect with their poetry. 

“My poetry is rooted in having to live a little bit, you know, and then really recycle those experiences,” Weatherspoon said after their performance. “Luckily, I have a vivid imagination and I can sort of reimagine and put the puzzle pieces together.”

To close the night, Krysten Hill shared her work with the audience. The power of her words were undeniable as she spoke about a range of her experiences, from teaching to loss to fear. Her final poem, “Nothing,” resonated with audience member Emmurliana Joseph, LSEHD ’26. 

“I’m kind of speechless,” Joseph said. “I feel like the poem just did a great job of pointing out how there’s a lot of pain and silence that just isn’t talked about.”

Hill discussed where she finds inspiration for her poems. 

“Taking from the world around you, and taking from the experiences of your community, and maybe sometimes the communities that are difficult to talk about,” Hill said. “And I think that’s real, like speaking on your experience is really hard to do.”

After the poetry section ended, CARAMEL emphasized the importance of events like Living In Color: Spoken Word Poetry Night.

“I thought the perfect time to do this was, you know, February, Black History Month, because the Black community has such a deep rooted talent and there are just so many wonderful people within the black community that perform incredible things,” CARAMEL said. 

The theme of the night was one of power and importance as the poets were vulnerable with the audience, and the audience was vulnerable in return. 

“I think all the thread of tonight was like people’s narratives and like speaking on where you’re coming from, and like, maybe those experiences are difficult to get in touch with,” Hill said once most audience members had filed out of the Cabaret Room. “And so sometimes to get there, like those poems take years because you’re trying to sift through a lot of difficult, hard stuff, but you also realize why it’s important to speak on it.” 

February 5, 2023