Steaming hot was not hot enough to capture the intensity of this highly anticipated event. The Florida A&M University Voices Poetry Group packed out the Grand Ballroom with about 300 students Tuesday at its annual Stroke My Mind event.
The theme of his year’s show was the love matrix. The poems focused on black love, lust, heartbreak and sex. The acts included various poetic talents, singers, rappers, and dancers from Blue Phi and Torque Dancing troupes. The Haitian Cultural Club also performed a version of Kompa, a fan favorite traditional dance.
Student Health Services sponsored the facility and brought information and tools to help students practice safe sex. Harriett Jennings with Student Health Services her office wants students to make safe and healthy choices with their bodies.
“We can’t tell you not to have sex, but we would rather you have safe sex,” Jennings said. “We brought everything it takes for safe sex.”
Students were able to stop by the table throughout the event and pick up condoms, lube and literature on safe sex and healthy relationships. Voices also held a $2 raffle for the chance to win male or female sex toys.
The night began with a single chant of “Voices Heard, Spoken Word,” the group’s identifying call. It was immediately and surprisingly followed by the voices of a male duo beginning the first performance of the night.
The poems were explicit and thought provoking. Siraya Hope, a sophomore at FAMU, says it’s an amazing event that helped open her mind to different sexual experiences.
“It was a lot of stories about people’s sexual experiences and preferences,” she said. “It really opened my mind to things that other people are doing and things that I can try out.”
Audience engagement was a significant component of the event. The seating was arranged so the poet could be in the center of the room with members of the audience on every side. Throughout the show, the audience encouraged poets with cheers, laughter, and the infamous “rewind” at impactful moments.
The event started at 7 p.m., 30 minutes after its advertised time, and lasted until shortly after 10 p.m. According to Voices parliamentarian Bleu Bell, the preparation for the event took weeks, and the group was pleased with the turnout and the performances.
“It’s been a long process, but it was definitely worth it. This is our biggest event of the year. Everyone, the whole campus, looks forward to stroke my mind,” Bell said. “It was a blast and next year hopefully it’s even nastier”
There was also a live painter creating works inspired by the poetry of the night. After the event the paintings were available for sale.