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Black history celebrated through words

Shihan, who has appeared on “Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry Jam,” shares some poems and stories from his life and career at the Black Student Union’s poetry showcase Tuesday in Dailey Theatre. The theater was packed to capacity until the end of the show at midnight. / photo by Zachary Horton

 

Christian Orozco
Sports Editor

Dailey Theatre was filled with students, fans and supporters of poetry Wednesday night for the Black Student Union Black Poetry Showcase in honor of Black History Month.

Host DeAntwann Johnson got the crowd ready for the night by singing the black national anthem and reciting a poem of his own.

The first poet of the night was a familiar face to ULV, high school English teacher Antonio “Paz 1” Cortez Appling.

“La Verne has a unique ability to get people out and gravitate them to these events, it’s great,” Appling said.

Appling was chosen to represent black excellence in education and gave the crowd his interpretation of the alphabet with a twist. He honored significant black figures or moments in history with every letter in the alphabet starting with the letter Z and working backward.

Appling was able to captivate the audience with his eloquent flow and modern take on the ancient art of poetry.

Following Appling, Kasi Teyana took the stage to honor black excellence in women.

“To be selected for something like this is beyond anything I’ve ever imagined. I feel really honored,” Teyana said.

Teyana opened her set with a reverse chronological history of events in black history, starting with the birth of Blue Ivory Carter to the building of the pyramids.

Teyana amused the crowd with her innocence and soft vocals while singing Ahmad’s 1994 hit “Back in the Day” and merged into a poem about her father. She then gave an ode to her hair in a hilarious but meaningful poem.

The showcase then took a break from poetry and gave the stage to the Claremont band Don’t Kick Jimmy. The trio grabbed the attention of the attendees quickly with their groovy, face-paced love song and put smiles on the crowds faces with their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”

Brian “Super B” Oliva was the next of the poets and was chosen to honor black excellence in art.

“The space here is perfect, I really enjoyed the environment and we got great feedback from the crowd,” Oliva said.

Oliva also began his set with “Back in the Day” to start of his poem about his joyful childhood and the simplicity of it.

Oliva tantalized the audience with his hopes of someday having kids, a wife, a better relationship with his father and thoughts of his life flashing before his eyes. He captivated many with his humorous, yet sensitive lines.

Finally, the poet that the audience had been waiting for took the stage. Shihan honored black excellence in literature.

“I never know what to expect when I perform at colleges,” Shihan said.

Shihan quickly won over the voice of the college students in attendance in his poem entitled “The Letter to My Mom That Never Made It.”

The audience members were able to relate to Shihan’s college experiences with lines like: “I would have school spirit if our teams didn’t suck” and “I became the Wolfgang Puck of Ramen Noodles.”

Shihan’s presence demanded attention as he said each line with so much passion that some would have thought he was angry if he was not smiling.

Shihan created an intimate environment leaving the floor open for questions for fans to ask him in between poems.

“Everything went perfect. The crowd was very encouraging and everyone was snapping at the right times,” Teyana said.

Christian Orozco can be reached at christian.orozco@laverne.edu.

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