Lyrical Faith’s Final Debut of Bright Moments: A Spoken Word Event

“Bringing everyone together in light of poetry and artistic expression”

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Tyler Charpentier / Daily Collegian (2022)

By Tyler Charpentier, Collegian Correspondent

Lyrical Faith and her guest speaker, Gabriel Ramirez, graced the lobby of the Bromery Center for the Arts to host this semester’s final segment of Bright Moments. Faith’s event is a spoken word forum with a focus toward students breaking themselves out of their shells and into the expressive field of poetry.

Bright Moments is an open mic night showcase in which students, staff members and members of the Amherst community can come together to read original poems, songs or any type of spoken word craft. This event assists in “bringing everyone together in light of poetry and artistic expression,” Faith said.

Faith, a renowned spoken word poet and a social justice doctorate student at the University of Massachusetts, created Bright Moments to provide students “a break from the stresses that happen in our daily campus life and to have a monthly event that they can look forward to,” she said.

This sentiment has been very well-received as veteran attendees will “write new poems just because they know the event is coming up and look forward to performing them,” Faith said. On the other hand, there are also students “who have never performed before and first shine during these events, which are the kind of moments I live for,” she continued.

Sophomore English and sustainable food and farming major Victoria Gravel was a first-time participant in Bright Moments.

“This is my first time ever performing my poetry, so I think it speaks volumes about the event that I was confident enough to do that today,” Gravel said.

Faith has seemed to leave a lasting impact of influence on the participants of her events, but so has “everyone else who had the courage to go up and share their work,” Gravel said. “I just feel so safe and so loved in this community of poetry.”

Faith usually brings along a highly decorated guest speaker in the field of poetry for the series. She said that invited speakers come from an extensive geographic range including the cities of Houston, Albuquerque and Baltimore. The night’s speaker, Gabriel Ramirez, is from Philadelphia.

Gabriel Ramirez is a queer Afro-Latinx poet, activist and teaching artist. He is a Broadway performer who has also been showcased in The Conversation Literary Arts Festival, Palm Beach Poetry Festival and the literary organizations The Watering Hole, CantoMundo and Callaloo.

Rameriaz gave a heartfelt performance as he touched on topics regarding mental health, grief and toxic masculinity. He has worked alongside Faith at numerous events as the content in their poems mirror one another.

Faith first discovered her voice as a writer during her freshman year at Syracuse University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in public relations and sociology in 2016. One of her most influential supporters was her poetry mentor Cedric T. Bolton, who was the leader of Syracuse’s poetry organization. Faith was already a writer and performer at this point of her life but had a “lack of confidence” in her work, she said.

“My four years at Syracuse were the most transformative years in my life to develop and mature my voice and really gain confidence as a student leader,” Faith said. “Cedric was a mentor to me then and still till this day, he made me believe that my work was something worth listening to and pursuing.”

Although she is now a world-renowned female poet who has received several accolades for the work she has done, her proudest moment in writing was a piece she wrote as an undergraduate student.

During that time in New York, several Black Syracuse students organized events to show solidarity with the movement in Ferguson, Missouri following the death of Michael Brown, including Faith, who wrote a poem titled Dear Ferguson. She considers this a turning point in her life because she felt that her “writing was directly inspired by activism and social movements that [she] could use to directly impact people.”

She ended up performing her poem “to a huge audience in the largest library at Syracuse, while a time-stopping movement and protest [was] taking place.” Faith said that this was the first activism poem she had ever written and performed.

While being a student at UMass, she has offered advice to incoming students who may be struggling with shaken confidence. “My first piece of advice is that you belong here, even though some may say otherwise. But that is okay because that’s going to happen, you can’t expect better from people who are committed to misunderstanding,” she explained.

She then proceeded to give some insight on college in a broader aspect. “College campuses are microcosms of our society, whatever is going on out there is going on in here,” she said. Faith expressed her belief in community-oriented campuses, where any group of people can find their niche and rely on one another throughout the hardships of school.  The event follows a similar sentiment, allowing people with similar passions to express their emotions through spoken forms of art.

“Find your community and know your why,” Faith said. “You need to know why you’re here; you need to know what is driving you to achieve the things you want to achieve.”

 

Tyler Charpentier is a collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected].