October 10, 2013
Last Thursday, students, faculty and alumni gathered in the Sadove Living Room for this year’s first “Speak Easy” event. Audience members gathered on couches, floors, laps of friends and even on air mattresses under the warm glow of holiday lights. For those who had never been to a Hamilton open mic event before, there was no knowing what to expect.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Africana Studies Dr. Crystal Endsley took the mic as host, with support from by co-host Anthony Jackson ’15 and DJ Supernova. Dr. Endsley energetically led a succession of poets, rappers and musicians.
Amber Torres ’16 kicked off the open mic with a poem entitled “Three Blue Birds.” She explained that the piece was a commentary on generational poverty focusing on the experiences of her and her two cousins and the complex difficulties they faced growing up.
The night featured other spoken word performances. Jennifer Roberts ’14 and Morolake Thompson ’14 performed a dazzling piece on sex and its social implications. Adrian Macrano ’16 gave a powerful and compelling reading of his piece on racial discrimination in the practices of the New York City police force. Perhaps most touching, alumnus Kevin Alexander ’13 read his poem on being a young father with his daughter watching from the audience.
Poetry and musical performances took turns throughout the evening. Emma Wilkinson ’16, with her usual whimsical charm, performed her original song, “Believe.” Jake Blount ’17 sang an original ditty on the topic of ‘thirsty thursdays.’ With no introduction needed, Jorett Joseph ‘14 took the mic and sang a passionate, lamenting Beyoncé song a cappella.
Throughout the performance, live artists Chris Labora ’16 and Sam Finkelstein ’14 added a stunning visual element to the event, creating original paintings right before the audience’s eyes. Finklestein’s work resulted in a striking abstract mélange of color, while Labora’s acrylic and spray-paint piece was a tribute to his late friend from Miami. Also extending throughout the event were performances by Utica College’s poetry group, Open Moments. UC students told riveting accounts of everything from coming out to hated ex-lovers.
In an electric finale, Dr. Endsley performed an off-the-page spoken word piece that dealt with her life-long struggle to obtain identity and empowerment. Touching on her use of poetry to handle these battles over these years, Dr. Endsley concluded the night, saying, “Some poets suck, some poets swallow, but I have learned how to spit.”