Story and videography by Leah Wilkinson

Audience members sit onstage with performers at Mango Street Live, a poetry and jazz performance that had its third annual show Thursday evening.

The theme was “a movement towards empowerment,” focused on giving voices to those who feel their identities have been shut down both on campus and in society.

Student performers read poems as the Gumbo Ensemble — Bellarmine’s student jazz group led by Dave Clark — performed in the background.

Poems featured elements of social-political issues, climate and environmental issues, and racial, gender inequality and injustice issues.

“I really like the event because it’s so empowering to those who feel like they have been silenced,” said junior Taylor Schuermann, who was in the audience. “It was just really powerful.”

Event organizer and Bellarmine senior Manny Fasipe said he developed Mango Street Live because he wanted to showcase student art.

“(Mango Street Live) spurred from a dream to bring together different aspects of the Bellarmine liberal arts community in celebration of the repertoire of student art,” Fasipe said.

Student poets organized the event with the help of staff members and specific groups on campus, including the Writing Center and the Office of Identity and Inclusion.

Fasipe said: “I figured out a name to brand the event: Mango Street Live. I thought it would be a nice fit since the name has a literary allusion so Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street, and since the event (features) jazz, it (carries) a jazz cafe-like title.”

Performers can choose to write and perform their own poems or read existing poems.

“I love how it is a judgement-free zone and students have a chance to express themselves not only with their voices but with instruments or any outlet,” said junior and performer Jameelah Lockhart. “The whole purpose for this event is for everyone to be heard.”

This year’s show had 11 readers, many who performed multiple poems.

The Gumbo Ensemble — consisting of about a dozen musicians — performed several songs as well, creating a balance between the music and poetry.

With societal issues at the forefront, Mango Street Live provided the Bellarmine community with a wide range of thought-provoking pieces on a school night.

“This is a nice safe space to get you out of your comfort zone,” Lockhart said.

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