“Woke” With Poet Benjamin Glen Explores The Importance Of Social Awareness

Benjamin Glen performs his spoken word poetry during the event "Woke" at LBCC's Hot Shot Cafe on Monday April 8. (Photo by Ruth Nash)

“I ran so fast I left behind my shadow, it was dark and met the description.”

Benjamin Glen paused after this line for a moment to let it sink in with the audience. He was the main event at a poetry reading on Monday, April 8 in the Hot Shot Cafe. A circle of chairs were placed around the mic stand, and in the chairs were all kinds of people excited to hear poetry. The chairs were for an event called the “Woke” poetry reading. “Woke”, as defined by the event itself  “refers to remaining conscious of the apparatus of oppression and injustice that feeds off of social apathy and lethargy.”

Javier Cervantes, department director of Institutional Equity and Student Engagement

started the event by introducing the people of the event to the crowd.  Two people from the Poetry Club were up first. One reciting two poems (“Woke” and “Saying Things Don’t Reach Me”) by Jonathon Clough. The other a single longer poem (no title) by Aria Smith. They were followed by Tristan Striker who provided two poems of his own (“Instagram” and “Harvest.”)

After Striker left the stage, Benjamin Glen was invited on the stage. A poet from Chicago with 15 years under his belt, he was a colleague of Striker. Everyone in the room was enamoured with his writing, giving snaps of approval to particular lines they liked.

“I ran so fast I left behind my shadow, it was dark and met the description.” That line was nested within a poem about a police station that rested a street away from one of the most crime ridden areas he remembers from his childhood. He stressed that people should not always write about the horrible things in life, and you must sometimes have to write about the nicer things. He finds it hard not to write about issues, but included two poems about love that he presented to the room as an example of his point.

He admitted after his readings that “The Matrix” was his favorite movie. This was apparent in almost all of his poems, but one of his poems especially when he made many references to “waking up” and becoming more aware of your reality.

He also used physicality in his reading, miming a phone call to the character Morpheus, asking how to take the correct pill to wake up. Even beyond that, many of his poems were about, as the title for the event suggests, becoming “woke.”

Story by James Schupp

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