Poets and musicians alike gather to celebrate spoken and performed word on a monthly basis in the University Center’s fourth floor lounge. Lyricist Lounge, put on by the Cultural Centers, provides an inviting and non-judgemental space for USF students to sing, rap and perform poetry in a comfortable setting. As the end of the semester approaches, the Cultural Centers put on their final Lyricist Lounge of the year on April 6.
Bright, colorful street art covered three large canvases, which served as the backdrop for the evening. As every Lyricist Lounge does, there was a theme for the evening: comfort food. While you didn’t have to recite a poem or sing a song about comfort food, they wanted the environment to feel like home and offer the secure qualities one feels while eating their favorite food.
Prospective students were on campus for the Students of Color Overnight Experience and made a stop to sit and enjoy all that Lyricist Lounge had to offer. With an open sign-up sheet, most of the performances were by brave prospective students. In fact, the first performer was a high school senior named Justin, who sang “Silence” by Marshmello and Khalid. While the music from the speakers kept cutting in and out, he didn’t let it stop his performance as he got the crowd to clap their hands and sway to his voice. He even invited the audience to sing along with him. A feeling of community came over the room and broke the ice for the rest of the prospective students, inspiring many others to perform.
Six other visiting high school seniors made their way up to mic that night, including a student named Maggie, who not only performed a poem, but also sang two indie-pop songs. USF and prospective students alike cheered on the talents and bravery of the high school students.
USF freshman Tuesday Bowen presented two original poems before being joined by freshman Chloe Damiba and junior Leilani Young-Smith, who dubbed themselves It’s Always Sunday. They performed a Willow Smith song titled “Feminine Energy.” One of the most praised performances of the night was by a junior exchange student from London, Carlisha Jolie, who sang and rapped an original song called “Breaking a Tradition” that she wrote for a hip-hop theater class at USF.
Sophomore Sage Hapke kept the mood casual and sexy when she read an original poem called “My Favorite Snack.” The poetry centralized around sexual innuendos disguised as various types of vegetables and fruits, and the crowd loved every second of it. Some audience members blushed tomato red, while others couldn’t stop laughing at the clever ways someone could describe sex by using food.
The head of Lyricist Lounge and the director of the Cultural Centers, Erin Echols, along with employees from the Gender and Sexuality Center and the Graphic Design Center, wanted to recognize first generation students within the USF body, as well as visiting students. They had them all stand up as the remaining audience applauded their accomplishments. The look of honor and pride on the faces of the prospective students made the whole night feel even more important.
Senior Yasmin Kouchesfahani, who works in the Gender and Sexuality Center and helped to set up and host Lyricist Lounge, described the event’s importance. “I think Lyricist Lounge is a great space for students to express their art, their narratives, their truths. I also think it’s especially a great space for students of color, queer students to really have their voices be in focus, and stories of survivors, stories of folks with mental health [illnesses].”