Thursday night on Carnahan Quadrangle, the Black Programming Committee put on Poetry in the Park, which included members of Free Verse as well as poetry by MU students.
Free Verse is composed of Dominique Ashaheed and Avinde Russell, winners of the 2011 National Poetry Slam as part of Denver’s SlamNUBA team, according to its Facebook page. The duo travels across the globe, translating its poetry for international audiences.
Free Verse member Dominique Ashaheed said her poetry is not bound by design. She said it operates without rules and constraint and does not have to rhyme.
“It’s literally, I would say … the only prescription for it is an authentic voice,” Ashaheed said. “Music and poetry walk together.”
Poetry is “the stuff that knocks in my chest,” Ashaheed said.
Another Free Verse member, Avinde Russell, explained what made the group's poetry.
“A lot of my writing revolves around taking in the world, taking in my life experience, and also processing that experience through what I regard as true,” he said.
MU poet Justin McCain talked about his poetry before the show. He shared his favorite poem, “Monster,” which is about domestic violence. He wrote it for a friend who asked him to compose a poem for MU’s Rock Against Rape.
“… it (Monster) is the most symbolic and (has) the hardest-hitting message," McCain said. "It’ll leave you thinking.”
BPC member Hasani Henderson began the night with a tap on the microphone and an introduction of MU poets whose poems brought up Obama’s re-election campaign, poverty, violence, rape and other social issues.
Free Verse used humor and harsh words to bring up social issues. When a poem was heavy, leaving the audience in silence, the duo would start making jokes to get the audience to relax again.
The duo ended on a serious note with its poem, “Where is Summer?” which talked about the duo's experiences in Catholic private school and brought up issues of abusive teachers.
BPC senior chairman Curtis Taylor said the event was better than what the group could have expected.
Sophomore Talyn Sands said she enjoyed the poetry spoken that night.
“They (Free Verse) were really heartfelt and in-depth,” she said.