September 30, 2020

It’s ‘Mayhem’ at the Rat when these theatric poets spit verse

The Mayhem Poets roused Rathskeller patrons on Friday. (Abby Hocking / Photo Assistant)

By Devin Loring

The Rathskeller served as a forum for three fast-talking performance poets on Friday, during College Union Board’s first outside performance of the semester.

The Mayhem Poets consist of Kyle Sutton, Scott Raven and Mason Granger. They promoted positive self-expression through poetry that contradicts negative stereotypes about the art. Theirs is not poetry that would be at place in a quiet, dimly lit cafe.

The Poets performed individual pieces and ones in which their voices joined in unison. All carried overarching themes.

The Poets tackled personal and world issues while introducing pop culture themes, including gender roles, stereotypes, race and the power of imagination.

But it wasn’t all seriousness.

“Poetry is about getting laid,” Sutton joked.

The Mayhem Poets frequently solicited audience input. During a poem performed by Sutton about roaches in his at-the-time off-campus house, the audience was asked to shout, “Oh shit!” after they heard the word “roach.”

Humor pervaded the performance, but pieces that addressed personal issues of the group, such as deaths in the family or insecurities, lent a tone of sobriety to the event.

The Mayhem Poets showed the audience that poetry can be funny or serious, and yet still entertaining.

Before the Mayhem Poets took the stage, the night kicked off with a few student poets from the College.

Corey Drake, a junior English major, went first with his poem “A Little Bit of Honesty.” Drake’s poetry was dark and forthright, and spilled out in a fast-paced jumble of verse.

“Honesty should be said in one breath,” Drake said.

Alicia Cuomo, a sophomore English major, told the audience before she began her set that her poetry tends to be “raunchy and uncomfortable.” Cuomo employed abrupt endings and images of women in compromising positions, and her work featured frank realism.

Samantha Zimbler, a sophomore English major, was next with a piece inspired by Pablo Picasso’s “Blue Nude” and a few others that she dubbed “disturbing.”

Esteban Martinez, a senior interactive multimedia major, recited his work as if he were singing — or, more specifically, rapping. Martinez had no set list. “(I have) no idea what the hell I’m doing,” he said.

Maybe so, but he was still able to take requests from the crowd and spin verses about them on a whim.

Lou Klein, a senior statistics and sociology double major, concluded student performances with a trilogy of pieces titled “Lethargy One,” “Lethargy Two” and “Lethargy Three,” and another poem about masturbation.

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