Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Colin Smith Staff Writer
Last Saturday, after an open-mic poetry session sponsored by the Kalamazoo Poetry Collective, Dartmouth graduate Aimee Le took the stage. Before reading a poem, Le talked about the massive commercial failure of the Atari video game “ET” and about her identity as an alien, a foreigner, and about the pain she once felt when John McCain spoke unkindly about Vietnamese people.
After Le read a few poems, University of Michigan graduate and winner of the Hopwood award Gahl Liberzon joined her onstage and beat boxed into the microphone while Le rapped to her poetry. Then, Liberzon spoke about his Jewish-Israeli background.
Before the performance Saturday night, both Le and Libzeron said their backgrounds influence the way they see poetry today.
Le said she began writing poetry when she was a high-schooler making fun of poetry. “It’s saying words in a dramatic voice,” Le said, “I would read soup labels in a ‘poetry voice.’” When someone called her bluff, Le said she realized she had only been embarrassed to write poetry. Once she overcame her fear, she didn’t stop writing. Le has been touring since she started writing at age 15.
Le’s career as a touring poet began when she won a poetry competition about global warming. Afterwards, Le said poetry became very connected with her life. “It gives a different understanding of what ‘hard’ is and what your life is,” she said.
Liberzon had a different introduction to poetry. When he was 12 years old, he said he noticed a “glow” about the poets at a slam poetry event. “What stuck out to me was that all they owned their stories,” Liberzon said.
When Liberzon earned a spot on the national team at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Word Works also approached him. He toured southern Michigan and Ohio.
Le said she thinks of performing poetry as “immersion, like language, there’s the mode of teaching where you’ve defined all the words, and then there’s the mode of teaching where you talk to someone as if they understand.”
She said she always wants the audience to meet her halfway.