FAMU’s English guild brought the Emerging Poets Series to Perry-Paige auditorium Friday. The 6th annual poetry series was hosted by English ProfessorKristine Snodgrass, and it featured Mahogany L. Browne and Joaquin Zihuatanejo.
Dozens of people gathered and took their seats as the host began the evening with an opening performance from the poetry group Voices.
During a brief overview about the event and the importance of poetry, Yakini B Kemp said, “We need poetry, our soul needs poetry,” before introducing Zihuatanejo, the first poet to read.
Dallas native Zihuatanejo has won several grand slam championships that led him to representing the SUA at the World Cup of Poetry held in Paris, France. Zihuatanejo has also appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry.
Zihuatanejo engaged the audience with details about his upbringing and how he entered the world of poetry. He began his presentation and his first reading titled “arsonist,” a form–driven poem inspired by the movement of flames. He went on to captivate the audience with three more readings from his collection.
Zihuatanejo finished his presentation with his poem “Street Poet,” the first poem Zihuatanejo performed at his first ever grand slam in which he won in Dallas.
After the show Zihuatanejo was available for comments. He described what his first poems were like. One of Zihuatanejo’s first poems is titled “Abuelo’s garden.” The poem utilized a form of language called code switching (the switching between multiple languages) with this poem Zihuatanejo mentioned that he felt the poem represented and related well to his friends and family who spoke multiple languages.
Zihuatanejo gave some advice in regards to upcoming poets: “The advice I give every poet is read as much as you can,” he said.
He went on to say that “today is an extraordinary time for poetry. You have so many poets of color, so many poets that come from different genders, and identities that are successful and thriving”.
Outside of being an American slam poet Zihuatanejo is also a teacher of English and creative writing.
Writer, educator, organizer and curator Mahogany Browne is originally from Oakland, California. Sheintroduced herself in front of the audience and began her presentation keeping the excitement that Joaquin had generated.
The now Brooklyn-based writer started off with what inspired her to write poetry and what keeps her empowered.
During a New Zealand trip Browne was detained by customs as they blacklisted her under the title “red wave.” Red wave means a person is deemed racist. This motivated her as she made it her personal mission to perform and speak everywhere empowering black women.
Browne closed her presentation with a poem titled “Black Girl Magic” that was included in a PBS segment titled “Brief but Spectacular.”
Browne was available for comment after her performance. She said she enjoyed reading to the audience in Perry-Paige, as it was her first time presenting at FAMU. When asked where she first drew her inspiration from, Browne said that she drew her inspiration from anger. “I was angry at a boyfriend, truthfully I got a standing ovation and then I realized sharing my story far more impactful then the anger I had for him.”
Snodgrass and the English guild have been hosting this event for six years. Prior to it being called the “Emerging Poet Series” it was called the “Younger poet series” and was held in the journalism building. The name was changed to emerging poet series so that the older poets would feel included as well.
The next event hosted by the English guild will be the spring literary forum scheduled for late February.