The Open Mic Night at the Biko House was a lowkey and casual event that brought out a lot of good company. The Biko House is in Isla Vista, on 6612 Sueno to be exact, and this really became an event for the community. The diverse range in age for the performers is something that I thought was a strong testament to the show. This program really allowed people from different backgrounds to find their voice and to be heard by their community. I am used to seeing people around my age get up on a stage and do express themselves but to see folks a lot older than myself was refreshing. Their work centered around their identity and who they are. This became the theme for the night because everybody who got up on the stage shared an important story. The experience they all went through was significant towards them growing into the person they are now and for them to express that onstage must have allowed them to accept the entirety of the experience.
Fong Tran was the host and MC for the night and is a poet himself. Fong performed a number of pieces while also serving as the face and voice for the audience. He emphasized the important role the audience plays in an open mic night. The poet or performer feeds off of the energy so it is important for the audience to play an active and loud role. Throughout the night, Fong would discuss different topics that related to his own identity, some of the work he has done, and his experiences he has had while traveling. It became a night for self-expression but also became a night for self-acceptance. Even if people did not perform a piece, being a part of that audience really made you feel like you were there in other people’s experiences and you were able to reflect on some of your own experiences.
The night was ended with a community poem. A community poem is a piece of paper that is passed around to everybody who attends the event. Each person is asked to write one line so the poem becomes a piece written by the entire crowd and is read at the end of the night. This easily became the most impactful moment of the evening because this showed that everybody had a story and a voice that needed to be heard.
Below are two of Fong’s pieces that were performed last night. The first piece is titled The Problem with what is Taught at School. The second piece is Vietnamese Mothers which is dedicated to his mother.