Def Poetry Jam comes to TJC

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As the room quiets and the lighting dims, spoken word artist Asia steps up to the microphone and begins to let the smooth flowing words of his life sweep across the room. Not even the sound of silverware hitting china can be heard despite the smell of the Italian food being served. Once finished, he steps back from the microphone, and claps just once as the room suddenly fills with applause.

“I love traveling, and being able to go to different schools, but TJC is one of the best places,” Asia said. “You have a really good vibe for poetry. It is one of the few schools I really enjoy coming out and performing at.”

On Feb. 14, TJC held the annual Def Poetry Jam in the Apache Rooms. The event was funded by the student life fee and promoted an educational, yet entertaining learning experience.

“I think it’s more of an educational environment, where they [students] can actually learn,” Student Activities Specialist Vincent Nguyen said. “It’s just a different side of what education is really all about.”

It was free to enrolled students at TJC as well as open to the general public. The event was a result of the requests of TJC students.

Despite the charge of $12 to $15 per person, the event was free to because of the student life fee. Nguyen said they do it for free for the students, because it is what they ask for.

The show featured poets Beny Blaq, Komplex and Asia, who have appeared on the “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam” on HBO.

“These are high caliber poets, entertainers and spoken word artists,” Nguyen said. “Not only do these slam poets talk about haiku and how they rhyme, but they also talk about their lives and the turmoil they have struggled with to become a successful person, not only as a person, but as an entertainer and a performer.”

Asia, who battled cancer, told stories of his past experiences and how they effected his life, describing his writing as his “own version of truth.” The only advice he offered to students was to follow whatever it is that they desire in life.

“I think we all have a calling, and it’s sad that many people don’t follow it when they should,” Asia said. “I try to always stay true to who I am, and I try not to write anything I don’t know about.”

Word spread quickly across campus about the Jam, and many students attended after hearing about it from a fellow classmate.

“We heard about the event from a friend at TJC,” sophomore Jenna Branch said. “We had never been to a poetry reading before, and we were really excited about it.”

The event was not an open mic event, but if students are interested in reading their own pieces in the future, they can contact Nguyen for more information at 903-510-2259 or vngu@tjc.edu.

“If anyone is interested in reading or being apart of slam poetry, we would like for the students, up to maybe three, to read their own poetry as an opening act,” Nguyen said.

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