Discovered at Penn State: Talent & Soul
Monday night we attended The STOOP: Spoken Word Lounge at West Commons. Unlike the whiny, esoteric (pardon my generalizations) drivel one might expect from a poetry slam populated by college kids, The STOOP proved to be a funny, crazy, and intensely emotional window into the lives of its performers.
The stage, set up to look like a front porch, saw a wide poetic spectrum, from comedic haikus to original musical compositions to striking autobiographical beat poetry.
These soulful performances left us cheering, laughing, and nodding as artists touched on concepts we could all relate to on some level. Throughout the night we saw young poets sing out and speak out about troubled childhoods, politics, loss, love, faith, and everyone’s favorite topic, sex. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the opposite sex never fails as a literary muse. There was plenty of, as some said, “gender-bashing,” but it was all in good fun; and besides, we all love to bemoan that guy who screwed us over or that girl who’s such a tease.
The community and camaraderie in Waring Study Lounge was tangible. We spoke to Tony Keith, the assistant director of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, MC for the night, and one of the featured performers. The goal of The STOOP was to provide students with a comfortable outlet for expression. “We wanted it to be more like a home environment; stoops, kitchens, places these kids are familiar with,” says Keith. “The Cultural Lounge provides other opportunities for cultural discourse, but cultural education doesn’t always have to be somber, serious. It can be fun.” Mr. Keith’s poetry included an introspective piece about modern life in the context of technology—he read from the medium he had written it on… his Blackberry.
Much to the audience’s amusement, Keith’s mother called in the middle of his recitation and—excuse me, I have to take this.