Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Open-mic venue packs them in

    At 8 p.m. on a Wednesday, 14th Street in Downtown Oakland has mostly emptied of commuters, but on the first Wednesday of each month, Venue sees a small stream of people coming through its doors.

    Sept. 3rd’s AMP event, a couple of hours of poetry reading and a capella singing accompanied by a featured visual artist, was held at Blend, the business on the bottom floor of Venue, 420 14th St., at the mouth of the Franklin Street exit of the 12th Street BART station.

    It was hosted by the charismatic Shawn William, member of the group Fiveology, which is the brain trust of the event. As people trickled in, he explained the nature of the event: an open-mic style poetry and music session complete with signup sheet and with an important stipulation: the audience has the solemn duty to overtly express its reactions to the pieces as they are spoken and not to wait until the end to deliver a demure applause.

    The Sept. 3 event featured poet was Javon Johnson, PhD, SF State professor and another member of Fiveology, a talented and practiced orator of a caliber not commonplace at open mics. His performance, at once manic and tightly controlled, elicited a vociferous response from the audience.

    The pieces, offered up by a dozen or so poets, ranged over the course of the event from the quiet approach to romance of a shy twenty-something to the harsh realities of compulsive eating to a comic-turned-serious letter to a daughter yet to be conceived in anything other than imagination.

    Up-to-date information on the event is difficult to find on the Internet, and while the fliers stacked on a table at the entrance claim the event happens every first and third Wednesday of the month, the announcements on Sept. 3rd mentioned only the first. The members of Fiveology could not be reached for comment. Regardless of the dearth of publicity, the event organizers create an inviting ambience and encourage audience participation.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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