Spoken-word poet performs at Michigan Tech

HOUGHTON – Latino spoken-word poet Michael Diaz performed at Michigan Technological University Thursday.

Reyes, a Saginaw native who now lives in Chicago, delivered high-energy poems interspersed with personal and historical context for the poems.

One poem was prompted by an elderly black women who ran into Reyes and his students at the mall and scoffed at the children’s language and clothes, saying it hadn’t been like that in “the good old days.” But that nostalgia was for a polished, “Leave It to Beaver” nostalgia that obscured the truths about the era, Reyes said.

“Let’s take it back to Commie sympathizer witch hunts/let’s take it back to blacklists/let’s take it back to government-controlled segregation/because of pigmentation/let’s take it back to the control of an island’s population through sterilization,” the poem read in part.

Reyes began the performance with a freestyle incorporating 15 words suggested by audience members, such as “shenanigans,” “Gucci” and “climate change.”

The event was part of the Social Justice Lecture Series hosted by Tech’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Michigan Technological University. The program was also part of Hispanic Heritage Month and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning History Month.

Earlier in the day, Reyes also performed for Dollar Bay High School students who were visiting the campus.

Kaitlin Urich, a second-year biomedical engineering major from Cadillac, Mich., said the show subverted her expectation that poetry would be boring.

“He was a good performer, good speaker,” she said.

For more information on Reyes, go to reyespoetry.com.