Slam poet’s performance inspires audience

Kyrie Hupka

Slam poet Carlos Andrés Gómez gave a poetry performance in Connelly Center’s Belle Air Terrace on Jan. 17.

The performance was organized by the Campus Activities Team’s Ideas and Issues Committee.

Gómez, a member of the legendary Nuyorican Poets’ Café’s Slam Team, incorporates hip-hop and jazz-lyrical style into his poetry.

Once a social worker and teacher in a public school district, Gómez’s passion for speaking to young adults has led him to bring his “Rebel Without a Cause College Tour” to over 100 colleges and universities across the country.

He has also performed across North America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.

He reached relative fame in the poetry world as the 2004 Mid-Atlantic Spoken Word Festival Grand Slam Champion and the winner of the 2004 North Carolina Poetry Grand Slam.

Gómez has gained attention as an actor and appeared in the Spike Lee film “Inside Man” alongside Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster and Clive Owen.

His most recent appearance was on the sixth season of HBO’s “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry” when viewers voted him their favorite poet of the episode.

Before Gómez took the stage, Villanova’s spoken word artist, senior Ivan Noisette, performed a work of his own.

Through his poem, Noisette condemned the “material culture of waste in this Western place” and proclaimed himself the representation of “the mind, body, spirit and soul of my people.”

He explained that his aim was to present listeners with an honest account of the faults of our society, not to “feed you fantasy.”

When Noisette’s reading ended, he received a round of applause from the sizeable audience that had gathered during his performance.

Gómez took the stage and complimented Noisette for challenging his listeners to think for themselves.

Before he began performing his poetry, he explained that the audience needed to follow three rules in order to really appreciate it.

“Frame your own opinion in your mind without wondering what the person next to you is thinking, feel however you want to feel about my poems and then put the two together,” Gómez said. “The last rule is the hardest one to follow.”

Each of the poems Gómez performed took on a distinct opponent, including the objectification of women, the lack of AIDS education, and the impending struggle for clean drinking water.

His featured poem of the evening was titled, “What’s Genocide.”

It retold the story of his frustration with a high school principal who wouldn’t allow him to educate the students through poetry that contained profanity.

“I met an 11-year-old gang member … who carries a semi-automatic weapon to study hall so he can make it home, and you want me to censor my language?” Gómez asks in the poem.

Although he said he sought to deliver a message through each of the poems in his performance, he said, “I don’t care if you forget my name, forget my poems, forget everything about me … just remember my most important message: you are enough.”

Gómez instructed the audience to appreciate their idiosyncrasies rather than find shame in them.

Through his “Distinctly Beautiful” campaign, which he promotes though MySpace and Facebook, Gómez challenges his audience to write, “I am distinctly beautiful because …” on the top of a blank page and to write down as many reasons as possible for 10 minutes without stopping.

“I’ve found that females have a particularly hard time acknowledging their own beauty, and as girls get older, they have more difficulty completing the challenge,” Gómez said.

“That’s because we live in a world that shames us for being different,” he added.

Even so, since beginning his college tour several months ago, Gómez has received over 250 “distinctly beautiful” poems from students nationwide.

“[They] oftentimes [left] me crying in an Internet cafe in Tacoma, Wash., or in Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta when I felt jet-lagged, lonely or just plain bored,” Gómez said.