On September 18th, I attended the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities kick-off Wednesday Night Live event. The RCAH Theater puts on WNL, a literary twist on Saturday Night Live, several times throughout the school year, featuring various artists and documentaries, and fostering conversation.
Climbing PoeTree were the featured artists of the night—combining spoken word and hip hop, this group of fierce women utilized their multi-dimensional craft to speak on justice, call out hypocrisy, and instill hope in the future. Even after 16 years of collaboration, these soul sisters continue to travel the globe, using their art to better the world around them. Before their performance, Alixa prefaced their group as not being a part of the entertainment business, but rather the inner-attainment business. Their vision for a better, achievable future is irresistible.
The group opened with a hybrid form of both spoken word and song. What was immediately striking about their performance was the echo effect that ensued from the collaboration and synchronization of multiple voices. From the voices, to the differing sound textures, to the material itself, it is clear that layers play a dominant role in the art. This dimension feels appropriate for the subject matters at play, and work to establish a multitude of audience-experiences. The sheer size of their performance requires you to choose, and what you decide to focus on will transform your experience of the art. It is personal, in every way.
Speaking on topics such as mother nature, the human condition, hate crimes, violence, race, spirituality, language, collaboration, and hope, Climbing PoeTree advocates for the unspoken voices. By encouraging audience collaboration during their performances, such as keeping the beat or singing along, this group radiates empowerment and unification for all. They transformed the inside of the RCAH Theater into a spiritual space for literary consumption—and it was beautiful.
Art is inspired by identity, and Climbing PoeTree is no exception. Their Latina roots threaded narratives within each performance, many of the pieces including both English and Spanish languages. This layering of languages not only further emphasizes the unity they are striving for, but highlights their refusal to be singularly labeled. They do not stand for or, only and.
This multi-cultural, multi-dimensional group transcends the boundaries of poetry, music, and film. Crafting spaces of healing, confrontation, and communication around the world, Climbing PoeTree stands as a reminder of just how powerful language can be.
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