Spoken word poet and musician Mecca, also known as Grimo, performed at the USpeak Open Verse and Short Story open-mic event Tuesday night.
At USpeak, participants can read their written works and play their music, and the performances are open to the public. The University of Miami literary journal, Mangrove, hosted the poetry readings.
Mecca performed three different spoken word poems in the second floor of the University Center. His love for music in conjunction with his love for his Haitian heritage helped him transform his art into a vehicle of hope and pride
“My poetry is how I express myself,” he said. “Just like a painter and his canvas. My words are my brush.”
His first single, “Ayisien,” was a Creole remix of an American rap song that received major rotation on mainstream radio. Ever since, Mecca has been an icon for the Hip Hop Creole movement.
Mecca’s poetry is inspired by his Haitian heritage. During the event, he described the discrimination he faced growing up and wanted to dissolve prevalent stereotypes about Haitian culture.
“So I started to research, document, archive historical events and facts that may have fell through the cracks,” he said. “No longer will I hide behind these silly stereotypes that would denounce the legacy of my ancestors. Now I was conducting educational workshops for the youth that once felt like me. I wasn’t born in Haiti … but Haiti was born in me.”
Mecca’s love for poetry blossomed at a young age, especially after he moved to Miami from the Bronx. Thirsty for knowledge and understanding its power, he immersed himself in reading and writing.
“Knowledge is power, but without the mind, knowledge is blind,” Mecca said. “I’ve always looked at myself as a messenger, whenever there was a lack of information the Griots would retell the story and reinterpret the message for the people.”
Griots are West African orators, performing poems and telling stories about their heritage.
Mecca feels that the most important aspect of his poetry is “the message.”
“Whatever the message is in that particular piece, it’s always been the message that drives me in particular,” he said. “It’s not just words that I put together, but it’s inspired by incidents, thoughts, emotions and experiences.”