Slam poetry makes people listen


(from left to right) Poets Janani Balasubramanian and Alok Vaid-Menon performs DarkMatter on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 in the Bovee University Center Auditorium. 

Transgenderism among people of color was a central theme for South-Asian artists Alok Vald-Menon and Janani Balasubramanlan as they performed slam poetry as a part of Coming Out Month.

The poetry performance was titled “DarkMatter," and took place Friday night at the Bovee University Center Auditorium. It was sponsored by the LGBTQ Services and the University Art Gallery.

The powerful message behind the performance was relatable to some students who attended.

“I feel liberated as a queer black person," said Redford senior Justin Toliver. "Here we can find space for talking about queer culture and even bigger issues (in our world).

The main point of the performance consisted in showing how prejudice, ignorance and injustice have contributed to oppressing transgender people, especially those of color, said the two artists. 

The poems performed focused on other contemporary issues as well, such as racism, homophobia, war, American imperialism, violence, harassment and depression.

Central Michigan University Art Gallery Director and event organizer, Anne Gochenour, said this should be part of a student’s education, because it gives a broader view about world’s diversity.

For sophomore Lauren Sirois from Novi, she said this event made her think about how minorities feel and are constantly a victim of society biases. 

“It’s important to talk about it for a better world,” she said.

The two poets said their performance was meant to make people question the meaning of “gender.” They said most people are unwilling to understand their world and act without ignorance. In addition, they revealed the people of color are the victims of the majority of homophobic violence.

“We called it DarkMatter because 90 percent of the universe is made of dark matter, which is invisible and nobody understands it or speaks about it. That’s the same principle that shapes our existence,” Balasubramanlan said.

Racism only adds to the troubles and injustice, the two performers said. 

“There’s a violence of the white body. Gay rights movements, for example, are led by rich and white people. We must respect each other and change,” they said.

Nevertheless, their poems attacked “white supremacy” and foreign policy issues such as U.S. Middle Eastern military campaigns and the use of drones. “Who is the real terrorist?” they asked the audience.