Free concert fuses hip-hop, poetry to promote diversity

By Courtney Francisco

UK poets are using their chaotically organized word rhymes to bring students together tonight.

Four student and local poets, along with the hip-hop group ISWHAT?!, will celebrate diversity through words in a free concert tonight from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Memorial Hall Amphitheater.

The poets are English senior Chuck Clenney, political science and philosophy junior Chad Reese, marketing and integrated strategic communications senior Patrick Nally, and Western Kentucky alumna Grace Bruenderman.

The event, which is sponsored by WRFL and the UK Office of Student Multicultural Affairs, aims to educate students about the similarities all students share, Clenney said.

“The performances deal with the interconnectedness of everything racially, spiritually and socially, to show that we are all humans, and there is no point in being unkind,” Clenney said.

ISWHAT?! will be performing a show, and the four poets will be presenting their work between sets, said WRFL promotions director Trevor Tremaine.

The poets plan to read their work with flair in hopes of drawing the audience into the messages of their words, Clenney said.

Nally uses one of his pieces to talk about the mistreatment of diamond miners in Sierra Leone, Africa. Another one of his poems speaks of the ability to “see things in colors that other people don’t normally see,” and how to interpret things differently than others do, Nally said.

Clenney plans to discuss racism and sexism and reveal how they are a detriment to social progress.

The poets also draw from hip-hop influences, and Clenney describes their poems as sporadic and condensed. Clenney believes this style naturally connects with ISWHAT?!, a Cincinnati-based band that has been compared to the Roots, but with an added jazz vibe.

“ISWHAT?! is ground-breaking stuff,” Tremaine said. “It is free-flow, on-the-spot music. They are socially conscious and sophisticated. They are old-school but are looking toward the future with modern-day issues.”

“This live performance is something where you can observe some of the best poets in the region on your campus, and all you have to do is show up,” Clenney said.