Poets unite, empower listeners

‘Poetry Night’ provides outlet for life’s struggles


Cody Casares / The Advocate

Student life ambassador Nijzel Dotson recites a poem he wrote to the crowd during the “Poetry Night” event in Fireside Hall on Monday.

By Anthony Kinney, News Editor

Student poets recited poems aimed to uplift as the sun began to set during the “Poetry Night” event hosted in Fireside Hall on Monday.

The event, hosted by Student Life ambassador Nijzel Dotson, was designed to bring students together to read poetry that will leave attendees feeling more empowered than when they came in.

“I just wanted to create a vibe where people can feel united through each other’s struggles,” Dotson said. “That’s what we made happen.”

Various poets took turns sharing their intimate poems, written to inspire listeners with heart-felt verses expressing hope, love, acceptance and perseverance through hard times.

Dotson began the event by reciting his poem, “Trapped,” in which he portrays the constant struggle he endures through his journey of self-acceptance.

The ambiance of the room seemed to change as the poets voiced inspirational lyrical stories describing the struggles of sexual assault, mental illness, racial and gender inequalities, self-acceptance and the demand for the unvarying acceptance for others.

Middle College High School senior Andrea Webb took the microphone to recite pieces of poetry from her newly published poetry book, “Crushed Rose Bloomed,” released online March 29.

MCHS is a high school that is hosted on the Contra Costa College campus, allowing its students to take college courses.

Webb said she came to support her friend Dotson’s poetry and to also recite her work to a crowd who possibly haven’t heard it before.

“Nijzel asked me to do it and I felt like I had to support him,” she said.

Dotson also recited poems from anonymous poets who didn’t feel comfortable enough to perform themselves.

MCHS English teacher Sofia Close also delivered original pieces to the packed crowd. Her poems touched on a list of topics such as love and the acceptance of others, as well as finding one’s self-identify.

She also recited a poem in honor of Mother’s Day. She gripped the crowd’s attention with the question, “Have you ever wanted something so bad but life just wouldn’t let you have it?” Then she recited “Butterflies,” a poem describing the severance of two lovers and the grief that accompanies it.

MCHS student Nicole Slaton said she came out to support the event because she’s a big fan of poetry and a good friend of Dotson’s. She came with her entire MCHS class.

Webb said she was surprised to see the big turnout and the extensive list of engaging student poets who took the stage.

Dotson said he was nervous about the turnout at first, but was in awe to see every chair full by the end of the event.

The event concluded with Dotson reciting his poem “I,” a poem of self-reflection inspired by the Kendrick Lamar song by the same name.

“Whether it’s from people speaking on sexual or domestic abuses, racial and gender issues, or internal conflicts within themselves, I just wanted to create an environment where people felt inspired enough to continue telling their stories through poetry,” Dotson said. “I want to keep the tradition alive.”