Poet and musician Rasar to be featured at this month’s SickSpits Open Mic Night
Since its founding in 2005, SickSpits Poetry Collective has been an avenue for creative expression and connection in the UC Davis community. Originally under the name iLL-literacy, the club has changed hands many times.
Since the roots of spoken word are planted in African-American heritage, the core members of SickSpits, most of whom are not African American, are concerned by lack of racial representation and are taking steps to make the event a more inclusive space. Some of the steps they are taking to determine how to become more racially inclusive include group discussions, anonymous surveys and informed consciousness of the material they’re putting forward. Another step they’re taking is actively inviting poets of color to be featured artists at their open mic nights. This week at their monthly event they are delighted to host alumni Rasar, a talented and rising artist, musician and poet.
SickSpits events usually feature a live DJ, dimmed lights, a lot of finger snapping, grunts of approval and the group chant that welcomes all poets as they take the stage: “Spit sick poet!”
Tanya Azari, a third-year Spanish major and the president of SickSpits, loves the event because it is a unique space where people can express themselves as a form of catharsis.
“[Anyone] can come and listen and interact without putting themselves in a vulnerable place,” Azari said.
Since spoken word is created around the idea of raw human experience and is an interactive art, the open mic nights are very much about building and relating back to communities.
Helen Bansen, a core member of the SickSpits team, addresses topics such as gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual assault and love in her poetry.
“I think it gives us a chance to write a way [that’s] more creative. [It allows us] to develop a community that’s based off of things that we care about,” Bansen said. “We’ve made such a familiar and friendly community out of the organization. [We’re all] able to go there and say what [we] need to say.”
After rising in his art and achieving great success with touring, old-school “spitter” and Wednesday night’s feature Rasar is excited to come back to visit this week.
“SickSpits is my favorite open mic in the world. They bring out a very appreciative crowd,” Rasar said.
With art driven by satire and genuine personal emotion, Rasar looks forward to the welcoming community that SickSpits has cultivated. Azari said she is excited for this week’s open mic and encourages all students to attend.
“[Come this Wednesday] because Rasar will teach you to remember the things you forgot you ever knew,” Azari said.
Graphic by Jennifer Wu.