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BHM Spoken Word Competition Celebrates Artistic Voices

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Open mic 24 3Students showcased their talents through spoken word and diverse modes of expression at the annual Black History Month Open Mic and Spoken Word Competition on February 22, part of the University’s Black History Month events.

More than 120 students attended the Spoken Word Competition in the Student Activities Center Ballroom and were captivated by the words of the eight contestants.

Winners of the competition were decided by a panel of judges, which included Ahmad Ali, WUSB 90.1FM DJ and musician; Mojavi Emi, professional spoken word performer and motivational speaker; and Audrey Fernandez, residence hall director and alumni Black World advisor.

Judges rated contestants based on content, creativity, stage presence and clarity, and winners were announced at the Black History month The Color Purple closing event on February 29.

Contestants were asked to perform pieces under five minutes long, focusing on the overarching theme “African Americans and the Arts and what it means to you.”

The winners were:

1st Place — Oluwatunmise Akinfeleye, None of it Matters, Nobody’s Listening 

2nd Place — Oluwatoyin Kupoluyi, For Black Girls Who Considered Suicide

3rd Place — Jazela Wright, An ode to Beatrix Kiddo

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Guest poet and judge Mojave Emi with USG assistant director Liz Frisenda.

“My performance was from the point of view of a Black boy who was forced to enter manhood prematurely after New York City took his friends, his dignity, and his conscience,” said Akinfeleye, a senior journalism and political science double major. “The intersection of Blackness and maleness is understudied and often deliberately ignored. The Black man is largely seen as an agent of destruction, and in my performance, I wanted to capture how that feels for a boy who just wanted to have fun with his friends.”

Akinfeleye is president of Black World SBU, a group dedicated to providing a voice for Black and Hispanic students at Stony Brook since 1974.

“I hate when poems don’t rhyme, so I made sure that mine would have consistent rhyme patterns while still immersing the audience into my world,” he added. “Performing a piece like that was gratifying more than anything else. I love rap and I have a habit of writing rhymes, so it was nice to have so many people exposed to my passion at the same time.”

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