The College Programming Board’s Tuesday Night Live brought a trio of poets to Ramapo on Tuesday. The group, known as “The Mayhem Poets,” provided their unique blend of poetry and spoken word to those willing to listen.
Although there was a paltry turnout, the few in attendance thoroughly enjoyed the performance and recognized the poets’ talent. Opening the show was eight-year college student and spoken word veteran Cary Goldberg. Goldberg informed the crowd that this was the final college show of his long tenure and tearfully spoke of his memorable experiences as an entertainer, taking off his shoes as homage to professional wrestlers who remove their boots and leave them in the ring following the last fight of their career.
The featured act of the night loosened up the crowd by selecting two people in the audience at random and making up what they were thinking about one another on the spot. The group impressed with their collaborative poems that had each performer speak a piece of the poem, vocalized in a way that was similar to that of a capella. The display of word prowess consisted of recitals by the group as a collective as well as each individual breaking off and performing by themselves.
The themes of the works themselves were varied but incredibly potent, including messages of love, fear and the corroding state of the environment. Tackling personal issues as well as societal troubles effectively demonstrated a mixed body of work that made for a powerful spectacle. At times, a passionate telling by one of the wordsmiths would sneak up on the listener and surprise them with gripping content that evoked unexpected emotion.
Perhaps one of the most riveting poems of the evening was one that equated God to Dr. Seuss in a theatrical speech. One of the poets took the role of a pastor and delivered the messages of Seuss in a sermon style, while the other poets sat in the crowd howling “amens” and similar expressions.
The artists’ appeal is born out of the true craftsmanship of the poems that weave together similes, metaphors, puns, plays on words and cultural references at a blistering pace, which all come together to form a commanding message simply through the power of words. “The Mayhem Poets” did not shy away from socio-political, religious or humanitarian subjects, but also understood that comedy is a tool that has a great ability of its own, which they utilized well not only in their poems, but in the transitions between sets as well as before and after show.