Pages Matam educates audience with spoken poetry

(Pages Matam read some of his “Drakus” in the McCarthy Forum. Photo by Melina Bourdeau)

Finding words to express oneself can be difficult, especially when it comes to dealing with controversial subjects. However, Pages Matam found words to express his feelings and enlighten the audience. The way he did this – through spoken poetry.

According to Matam, his list of accomplishments is long and varies from being a gummy bear elitist and professional hugger to an educator and an activist for immigration. He is Cameroonian living in Washington, D.C. He performed on Thursday, April 21, in the McCarthy Forum. Although the audience was small, it was attentive.

His first poem was about his mother and what she taught him about  respect and love for all people, and how strong she was not only as a woman but as a mom.

The crowd reacted positively towards a line that he said regarding haters, “Those who show you no love, are usually the ones who need to see it the most.”

Throughout his poetry he added personal anecdotes. He introduced each poem with a story. He was relatable to the audience in terms of communicating in a funny manner and being personal about his life. He struggled with family, drugs and being comfortable with who he is. He used a discussion about his son to introduce a poem based on his father’s neglect and the repercussions of bad ideas and misunderstandings of the value of love.

He later read poems from his book, “The Heart of a Comet,” a collection of short stories and poems. He read “Drakus,” a series of haikus that he wrote on a tour after his longtime girlfriend broke up with him, which are not in his book.

He then said he was inspired to write “Drakus” after listening to Drake the whole time he was on tour.

“I thought the love which / kept us warm would not end up / burning down our home,” he read from his haiku titled, “Things You Learn from Falling in Love with Fire.”

One of his last poems , “Piñata” rose up the issue of sexual assault.  He told the audience that if they needed to leave it would be okay. The poem began with him addressing a man on the bus, after overhearing him say to his female companion, “You are too ugly to be raped.” The poem discussed how his own students have suffered by the hand of family rapists, and how he was also a victim. He ended the poem with a short pause before reading another “Draku” to lighten the mood.

After the show, students stayed to talk with Matam, asking for pictures and advice. Kaila Walters, a freshman, said, “I think he did really well, he was very inspiring.”

When asked what his poetry meant to him, Matam said, “My poetry means love, acceptance and loving thyself. It means doing the necessary and no longer being silent.”