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Friday, Sep 22, 2023
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Point B.L.A.N.K hits the mark

In their first year as a student organization, Point B.L.A.N.K made an inspiring Cinderella run. The group, Mercer’s spoken word coalition, made it to the semi-finals of the 15th annual College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI).

Virgenal Owens, a 5th year senior getting his masters in biomedical engineer; Ryan Jones, a senior majoring in environmental engineering; Micheline Dieujuste-Antoine, a junior majoring in biology; Afrika Hamilton, a junior majoring in psychology; and Avery Braxton, a freshman majoring in journalism, represented the group.

“It was a crazy feeling,” Braxton said.

Originally, the group was an independent club called B.L.A.C.K  Poets. Owens, Jones, and Dieujuste-Antoine joined the group when they were freshman. Hamilton joined a little later. The group was successful but group members didn’t have as much time to work on their craft because they had to promote. Becoming a student organization allowed the group to focus on writing, Owens said.

“There were a lot more open mics we could do because were a student organization,” Hamilton said. “CUPSI probably would not have been on the agenda if we weren’t a student organization.”

They began recruiting members and changed their name to Point B.L.A.N.K. (Believing Love and Nurturing Knowledge).

They felt the name was more inclusive, but still kept the group’s core message,

“When it was B.L.A.C.K Poets, it was Believing Love And Cherishing Knowledge,” Owens said. “We basically just changed one word.”

During the recruiting process, Braxton came to the organization. He was a part of the minority mentor program. His mentor, Justis Ward, told Braxton about the group.

“I took that and ran with it,” Braxton said.

Braxton performed at an open mic night early in the year and then started showing up at meetings.

While practicing their art form, they stumbled on performers from CUPSI.

“We didn’t know what it was until we looked it up,” Jones said. “It seemed like a far off goal. We kind of just took it upon ourselves to put together a team.”

The group took a change and held a poetry slam to see who would represent the group at CUPSI. Owens, Jones, Hamilton, Dieujuste-Antoine, and Braxton, the newcomer, were selected.

They made the trip to Virginia Commonwealth University, hopeful they’d do well.

In the first preliminary slam, Point B.L.A.N.K. placed first.  In the second, they placed second.

“We told ourselves we’re going to do this and show out for Mercer,” Jones said. “I was really amazed.”

Point B.L.A.N.K  made it to the semi-finals before being eliminated from the competition. The team finished 20th of 68 teams, placing ahead of teams from institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Duke, Princeton and Stanford.

Moving forward, the group is looking to expand its reach. Spoken word groups at colleges like GCSU and high school students in the Macon area are targets, according to Jones. Hamilton also stated the group wants to bring back Groove Speak, an event that was important during the days of B.L.A.C.K poets. The event gets members of the community involved and allows them to present their work.

The group’s success has spurred interest of students.

“I’ve had people come to me and ask ‘where do you guys meet and are you accepting new members?’” Braxton said.

The group hopes their success will continue.

“We want to add something to Mercer,” Dieujuste-Antoine said.



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