Poets open up at open mic

Thatiana Gibbs
Staff Writer

To showcase poetic expression, the volunteer-run nonprofit Cafe con Libros Press hosted an open mic night Saturday.

Titled “Poetry After Dark: Grown and Sexy Open Mic,” the night’s theme involved raw emotion and embraced taboo topics.

Upon entry, the part-cafe, part-library’s atmosphere was light and welcoming. Laughter ambled around the room as people talked amongst themselves. 

Co-host of the evening Pati DeRobles, president of the nonprofit, opened the event. Her speech conveyed gratitude toward guests, as the majority of the organization’s funding is received through supplementary events and donations such as this one. 

On stage poets put themselves out there and offered emotions for the audience to contemplate, captivating the room with their presence, intimacy and words.

Each performance glowed with individuality, and as mood differed, the intention of each poem was evident. Style of delivery varied depending on the poet, from rhythmic phrases and immersive storytelling to the occasional cathartic release of profanity.

“The mission of the space has always been to support our nature and culture,” DeRobles said. “Poetry encompasses all of it. It is an art form that inspires people to read and write their own.”

“With poetry there is nothing that somebody can say is wrong about it,” poet Taylor Smith said. “That is something that is really powerful, to not have a ‘no’ to what you are saying or doing. A lot of things involve ‘no’ but this is always a ‘yes’ when you are honest and vulnerable.” 

Each poem represented personal values, while some poets prioritized political advocacy in their writing, and others entertained audiences with lighthearted quips that paid homage to “cometry,” a technique that combines elements of both comedy and poetry. 

Poets relayed their messages through use of body language, mannerism and calculated pausing. The act of spoken word is certainly an art form, as it requires practice and creativity in becoming a veteran performer.

The culture of open mic does not revolve around passive observation. A large aspect of poetry is not only speaking, but listening and engaging with the community as well. 

Throughout their performances poets encouraged audience participation, including call and response, clapping and rhythm or sing-alongs. This made the environment lively, entertaining and connection-oriented for audience members.

“I started volunteering because of all the help that they provide to the community,” volunteer Mayra Sosa said. “We have a community fridge, and provide a space for people to come and hang out. (In Pomona) We don’t have a lot of spaces where people can feel safe. We have local artists and poets who come here all the time, and we have regulars who became friends.”

“I’ve heard of open mic but had never been to one,” Maria Gonzalez, guest, said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but it was really interesting. I liked the diversity of the people, and to hear them express themselves.”

The benefit of providing a place for individuals to come together and share their ideas goes beyond free expression and community. Events such as this one cultivate a culture where voices matter and speaking out is celebrated. 

Cafe con Libros Press open mic nights are every second Saturday of the month. The venue is at 280 West Second Street in Pomona. For more information visit cafeconlibrospress.org.

Thatiana Gibbs can be reached at thatianagibbs@laverne.edu.

Thatiana Gibbs is a junior journalism major with a concentration in print-online journalism and a staff writer for the Campus Times. Her enthusiasm lies in research, writing, and effectively delivering captivating information to the public eye.

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