This past Tuesday was definitely an evening of self-expression. There were a lot of voices that were heard. Before that night, I heard of MC Fong Tran about three years ago. I had come across a couple of his spoken word pieces on YouTube. They really moved me so when I saw on the syllabus that he was hosting the open mic, I was stoked.
The day came and I was so excited about the event that I got to the Biko Garage 30 minutes early. I had never been to the Biko garage before and it was located in a dark alley, which honestly freaked me out a little. So, I stood on the corner of the block and waited for about five minutes. I walked up to the garage and saw Tran sitting on a table jotting something down. I was one of the first ones there. I decided to introduce myself. I told him that I was also from Sacramento. We chatted for a bit and he gave me his business card. He asked me if I write poetry and I told him that I used to in high school. Then, he encouraged me to perform. I politely declined multiple times because I was not prepared.
Tran introduced himself to the crowd and he noted that he would perform one of his own pieces at the beginning, middle, and end of the event. His first piece was called “History Textbooks”. It was one of the first pieces I heard when I first heard of him. It is an amazing piece and to see it in person was astounding. As the evening grew older and the air coldly thickened, the people who signed up to perform were going up one by one. Some performed quickly, which just left me to ponder about their spoken piece some more. The messages of those who went 5+ minutes over made it possible for me to really think about what they were saying. Throughout the 2 hours and 30 minutes open mic, there was a mixture of rap, accapella, storytelling, and spoken word poetry.
Tran shared his last spoken word piece, “Dear Young Man Of Color” of the night and I was happy to hear it again. I haven’t heard it since last year.
On my way home, I reminisce about how much I loved and wrote poetry when I was in high school. It was the one thing that I felt truly expressed how I felt. Mapping the emotions of a teenage girl onto paper kept me sane for the time being. When I started college, even though I had more free time, I was busy all the time. I only wrote 5 poems in the past three years compared to when I wrote a few pieces monthly. This is crazy and I plan to change this. As academics got more serious, I pushed the arts away. I felt that my time to pursue any of them were gone and the time to grow up is any day now. After attending this event, I realize that I’m wrong. Engaging in the arts is a special kind of freedom in a world so confined by the race, class, status, etc. relations.