Spoken Word: Rabbits at Vista del Campo

Mic check, one two, one two. Is this thing on? Sometimes being on a college campus like UC Irvine can have a very diminishing effect on one’s ego. With hundreds of students filling each lecture hall, it’s pretty much impossible not to feel like a number. Try raising your hand while sitting in the back of a general chemistry class and you’ll know what I mean.
Here at UCI, it can be difficult to express yourself. Sometimes we just want to be heard. Thankfully, there is hope.
On Oct. 18, Vista del Campo hosted its first ever open mic night. Presented by the members of UCI’s Uncultivated Rabbits club and sponsored by Irvine Queers, Students for Peace and Justice and the American Indian Student Association, the event allowed students to pick up a microphone and slam.
What is a ‘slam,’ you ask? According to Mark Maza, third-year criminology, law and society major and a participant in the event, a slam is a competitive poetry reading contest where performance and audience participation count as much as the words being spoken. Remove the competitive portion of the slam, and that’s what VDC’s open mic night was: a relaxed and friendly venue for students to read and perform their own poetry in front of an enthusiastic audience.
Reading a poem from a sheet of paper is one thing, but hearing and seeing it being performed is another. As demonstrated by fifth-year Asian American studies major John Nguyen, one of the event’s organizers and the first to perform, passion plays a big part in a performance.
While he performed his poems about wanting to be a teacher and his Vietnamese heritage, he didn’t stand still. His voice didn’t drone; he was energetic. His hands moved about as he paced back on forth on stage. The tonality of his voice changed with each line. It was very reminiscent of old-school hip-hop. Everybody who followed him had the same explosive energy.
Topics varied from person to person. One recited a poem about some hateful writings she saw on a bathroom wall while another spoke about her political views. Of course, there were love poems as well.
If you are interested in participating in an open mic night or feel left out for missing this one, be on the lookout for another one hosted by Uncultivated Rabbits next quarter or catch their weekly meetings on Mondays from 6-8 p.m. in Humanities Hall 220.