Slamming Preconceptions

By Sara Blankenheim

Bryonn Bain’s slam-poetry flooded the walls of the Holmes Student Center’s Carl Sandburg Auditorium on Tuesday night.

Bain began by moving the scattered audience to the front and center seats in the auditorium.

His first piece informed the audience that “things are often not what they seem. We can’t let our imagination disappear,” Bain said.

Bain touched on many subjects, such as racial profiling and the prison crisis before, and after, Sept. 11, 2001.

“Law enforcement officials arrest, harass or incarcerate folks because of the color of their skin,” he said. “Racial profiling has now been expanded to include other races.”

Between pieces, Bain read poems from some of his students at New York University, where he is a professor.

Bain also invited members of the audience to show off their skills.

“Let’s make it interactive,” he said. “Make it alive.”

Bain was a victim of racial profiling in 1999 outside a Manhattan lyricist lounge called the Latin Quarter, which involved him and some friends being witnesses to a crime but in no way involved.

“All of a sudden a half-dozen bouncers come running out of the club, and came directly to us,” he said. “They came down and threw us against the walls; they didn’t ask anyone what happened.”

For the next five months, Bain and his friends were required to defend themselves against a crime they had only witnessed.

Bain also spoke on the war on drugs and the fear across the United States that it has ignited.

“We need to create some serious alternatives to incarceration,” he said.

Aside from the war on drugs, Bain discussed foreign policy and the current threat of war facing the U.S.

“The foreign policy that’s coming out of this country is creating contempt for this country,” he said.

One of Bain’s pieces focused on Christianity.

“I used to worship in the temple until I realized that everything is God,” he spoke.

Sophomore corporate communication major Laurel Marselle was fascinated with Bain’s position on the issues.

“I thought he was absolutely excellent,” she said. “He brought up points I had never thought about politically, involving President Bush and war.”

Bain ended the night by encouraging the audience to work together and learn from each other.

“He spoke the truth,” said Sharesse Loston, a freshman early childhood education major. “He’s one of the best speakers I’ve heard so far.”

Sophomore journalism major David Kulbeda also enjoyed the performance.

“He’s a very good poet,” he said. “I’m not a big fan of poetry but I enjoyed his stuff.”