North Texas Daily

UNT Poetic Justice gives student performers outlet

UNT Poetic Justice gives student performers outlet

UNT Poetic Justice gives student performers outlet
February 17
23:36 2014

Amanda Colon // Contributing Writer

More than 50 students trickled in and filled up the lecture room.  Some sat on the floor and others stood as the night’s performers began to gather in front of the room.  One stared anxiously into the audience.

“I’ve never spoken at one of these before,” she said. “But I’m going to share a poem I wrote about my dad.”

The crowd snapped their fingers and a few shouted words of encouragement. Then, silence.  The petite, soft-spoken girl spoke to the crowd for the first time.

This is just another Tuesday night for UNT Poetic Justice.  The group has existed for three years but recently caused a stir on Twitter with a two-part YouTube video that gained more than 2,000 views in less than a week—a count that continues to grow.

Philosophy junior and UNTPJ vice president Imani Waweru is enthusiastic about the new wave of recognition they have received.

“Poetic Justice means a lot to me,” Waweru said.  “It gives me a platform to say what’s on my mind, free of judgment, and to a crowd of open-minded individuals. We have truly opened up a new door of freedom (for students).”

The YouTube video is titled “UNT Poetic Justice Cypher 2K13,”  in which several UNT students and other hip-hop artists from the area rap freestyle verses to an original beat. Each artist brings his own originality and style to the song as the video progresses.

“Cyphers” are popular forms of artistry in the world of hip-hop music and have been used by countless famous rap artists, including Eminem and Jay-Z in the early days of their careers.

The underground music industry and the art of spoken-word poetry have gained popularity at universities across the United States including UCLA and Boston University.  The movement, thanks to UNTPJ and social media, has made itself known at UNT.

UNTPJ hosts fundraising events and open poetry slams to promote the culture of spoken word, free expression and hip-hop music. Just three months ago they brought famous rapper B.O.B. to campus for a meet-and-greet.

Pre-merchandising junior and regular audience member Deiandra Flood, said the group has done more than just promote creativity and hip-hop. She said it made an impact by encouraging students to reach out beyond social boundaries.

“UNTPJ is a place where it is obvious that all avenues of appearance, culture, background and ideas are accepted,” she said.

Jason Lusengo, a business freshman and hip-hop artist from the cypher said he believes UNTPJ is one of the only groups on campus that is not exclusive—anyone can take part.

“What really did it for me was the vibe. Everyone is there to express themselves and everyone is comfortable,” he said. “One time a kid got up there and just scatted.  It was really cool. That’s what I love about it. You don’t have to be an art or theater major to participate, it’s open for anyone.  Everyone there shows you love, no matter what you do.”

English junior and UNTPJ president Rodderick Parker summed up the organization.

“Poetic Justice is an intellectual playground. It’s a place to inspire and be inspired,” he said.

UNTPJ meets at 10 p.m. every Tuesday night for an open forum, similar to an open mic night, without the music or the microphone.  The group invites anyone and eve-ryone to perform or just gather and listen to other students.

Members usually meet under the gazebo by Union Circle, but if it is cold or rainy they meet in lecture room 311 in Matthews Hall. The group has drawn crowds of more than 100 people on good weather days, Lusengo said.

To check out UNT Poetic Justice or participate in an open forum event follow its Twitter and Facebook pages @UNTPJ.

Feature photo: A UNT Poetic justice meeting held on campus. Photo courtesy of UNT Poetic Justice Twitter page  

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