Spoken word poetry superstars address the big issues


Students watch a spoken word poet perform

Yesterday, The Center for Multicultural Student Services, in partnership with Urbintel Inc., hosted “Def Poetry Jam,” bringing some of the best-known names in spoken word poetry to campus.

Nationally recognized performers took the stage at JMU to address a range of topics, including ethical decision-making, sexual assault, alcohol awareness and social justice.

A few of this year’s performers included:

  • Ashley August is a 21-year-old Brooklyn native. August is a writer, actress, singer and performer and was named the NYC Youth Poet Laureate of 2013.
  • Helena D. Lewis is an award-winning performer and also a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and an HIV/AIDS health educator.
  • Gabriel Ramirez is a 20-year-old writer, actor, poet and playwright. Ramirez is the 2012 Knicks Poetry Slam Champion and a member of the 2012 Urban Word NYC slam team.
  • Kraal “Kayo” Charles, a Brooklyn native, is a performer, playwright and producer. Kayo was highlighted during the inaugural season of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and in the documentaries, “Bone Bristle” and “Hughes Dreams Harlem."

“Because students can relate to the stories the poets share, they better understand that they’re not alone in navigating difficult social issues and that they are supported,” said Valarie Ghant, director of the Center for Multicultural Student Services.

For those craving more poetry, The Furious Flower Poetry Center will present its decade-defining conference, September 24–27, 2014, at JMU. Held only once every 10 years, this gathering of poets and scholars features readings by many of the best established and emerging African American poets writing today. All readings are free and open to the public. For more information, call (540) 568-8883.


Aug. 29

Published: Friday, August 29, 2014

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2018

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