Poetry slam raises money for Palestinian children

03-24-09 Open Mic
Secondary education and English freshman Gustavo Chaydez reads his poem “Brown Sugar” at the first open mic night that Poets for Peace put on at the stage in front of the Memorial Union on Thursday. (Erik Hilburn | The State Press)
Published On:
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
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The Memorial Union’s outdoor stage featured poets who offered their spoken words for a good cause Thursday night during “Poets For Peace.”

The New Global Citizens Club of ASU sponsored the event to raise money for the Al-Rowwad Theater in Palestine. The New Global Citizens Club at ASU is a student organization that was formed this year.

One-hundred percent of the money donated by audience members was sent to Al-Rowwad to “give kids the opportunity to express their frustrations in a healthy way through art,” said Cameron Bean, co-founder of the new club.

Bean, a sociology and political science freshman, brought New Global Citizens to ASU along with Chris Doran, a philosophy and justice studies freshman, after they were involved in the club throughout high school.

The two club founders said their goal was to “pick a cause around the world then educate, advocate and raise funds.”

Poets For Peace featured an open mic from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., then a poetry slam from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. The poetry slam gave 11 poets and musicians the chance to compete for a prize, and the chance to raise awareness about world issues.

First in the open mic lineup was Sylvia Dandal, a local poet who read a piece by a Palestinian author to coincide with the event’s purpose. She read part of the poem in English and part in Arabic.

Next up was a poet who went by the name Tony B. Conscious. He described himself as a “spoken word artist” from Los Angeles. He sang and rapped a piece titled “Be the change you want to see in this world.”

The night’s main event was the poetry slam, in which poets were given 3 minutes to perform their poetry and compete for first place. They were judged by audience members on a scale from zero to 10.

Bean collaborated with Jose Magana, who served as master of ceremonies for the night.

Magana, who recently graduated from Barrett, the Honors College, has been involved with the Friday night poetry slam at Mill’s End Espresso, a coffee shop on Mill Avenue, since he started college.

Khalid Shams of Chandler won the contest after the 11 contestants were cut down to seven, to four, then finally to one.

The Poets For Peace slam was Sham’s first time reading his poetry competitively. Shams walked away with a messenger tote and a $40 gift card to Fry’s Marketplace, courtesy of the New Global Citizens.

When Bean took the stage at the end of the night, it was to remind audience members why they were there.

The Al-Rawwad Theater, located in Ida on the West Bank of Palestine, is a refugee camp surrounded by a 27-foot wall. The camp’s occupants, of whom are 66 percent under the age of 18, live in an “environment of frustration and hopelessness,” Bean said.

The New Global Citizen’s goal is to provide the theater with funds to support the creative aspect of the children’s education, Bean said.

We want to “actively partner with nonprofit organizations around the globe,” Bean said, and “connect our resources with their great ideas.”

Reach the reporter at kelsey.groetken@asu.edu.