Spoken word stars Neil Hilborn and Kyla Lacey visit UMass Dartmouth

By Zack Downing, Staff Writer

One of the newest performance trends to sweep the nation is spoken word, or “slam” poetry. It’s a budding art form in which poets take to the stage and passionately deliver their poems to their listening audience.

Last Wednesday evening on February 15, UMass Dartmouth hosted a spoken word poetry show for two popular poets, Kyla Lacey and Neil Hilborn.

If you’re a fan of slam poetry, you may recognize Neil Hilborn from a viral video of one of his poems, titled “OCD.” It tackled the subject of his OCD combined with an intense relationship with a girl, and was spoken with such emotion that twelve million people watched and felt his pain.

The night began with Kyla Lacey—with her bubbly personality that manifested itself in her poems. Her first few poems were easy to relate to, as it concerned relationships and friendships. Her first was clever, comparing relationships to math equations and weaving wordplay with solid advice.

She also incorporated academic metaphors into her poem about friendship and betrayal, one of the best lines being, “Tell them that positivity’s surrounding all of my actions without negative ions, but with an eye on everything I try to become.”

In between each poem she would improvise a little, introducing the next poem and telling some relevant jokes. It was entertaining, and the varying content held everyone’s attention.

Her next poem was more lighthearted, about her curly hair and the personality it seems to have. The tone shifted when she began a poem about a recent breakup, and then she led into a powerful poem about an abusive boyfriend she had had named Lucifer.

Spoken word poetry can be very heavy, but the emotion she delivered it with was the factor that transformed it into a compelling art form.

She ended her set with a poem engaging people who believe that homosexuality is a choice, questioning why anyone would choose a life of hatred and oppression. This poem was especially close to her, as she lost a friend in the Orlando nightclub shooting.

The first poem from Neil Hilborn was the one that brought him into the spotlight, “OCD.” His poems were generally shorter, but it didn’t affect the emotional impact of the recitations.

The following poem was also about love, but a more cheesy, everyday love that audiences could relate to. He then delivered an affective poem about struggling with depression, with mental illnesses being the common theme of a lot of his poems.

However, his poems weren’t all melancholic. He delivered a few of his funny poems, like a series of terrible Tinder bios. One such terrible bio read, “Hi ladies, I’m six foot one inch, and those are two different measurements.”

Hilborn went on to tell the audience about his albino pet rat, who he loved and took care of for a few years before it died of old age. It was a hard time for him, as the rat helped him with his depression.

His struggles with depression were the subject of his next poem, in which he noted that depression isn’t just sadness, but also a lack of positive emotions as a whole.

Hilborn’s final poem was his personal favorite to deliver. It was an emotional piece that began with his diagnosis and time dealing with genetic bipolar disorder, but ended with a determined attitude, saying he could picture his future and that he would live to see it.

The night ended on an exciting note when an audience member asked Kyla Lacey to deliver a poem of hers called “White Privilege,” that she originally wasn’t planning on doing.

However, due to popular demand, she delivered the piece, and the crowd loved it.

Sophomore and psychology major Tess Maley, noted, “I expected the poems to be dry and maybe a little boring, but the topics were incredibly relatable and the passion that the poets displayed when speaking made the whole experience worthwhile.”

If you haven’t given slam poetry a chance, consider it, because the trend is taking off and people are loving it more than they expected.

Photo Courtesy: Zack Downing


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