Poet connects with audience in 7th Street Underground

Mike Santoria, Campus Reporter

By using a mix of personal stories and interacting with audience members, LGBTQ activist and writer Natasha T. Miller was able to connect with students at the ‘My Black is Beautiful’ poetry slam.

Miller performed six poems for the roughly twenty Eastern students attending.

“Anytime I get on stage and someone listens to me, that’s a memorable moment,” Miller said. “I did, however, find myself performing in front of  40,000 people, getting two standing ovations and being asked to come back to Ford field.”

Miller was in tenth grade when one teacher gave her a positive response to a poem she wrote for class. She remembers that moment as something that continues to resonate in her life.

Miller said over the last five years, poetry has been her base. She said she wants poetry to always be a part of what she does but commercial opportunities, more community engagement and entrepreneurship aspirations have been driving her for the last half-decade.

Miller has performed in nearly 150 colleges. She recently was involved with corporate venders to recite her poetry for companies like Ford and advertisement magazines like Elle.

Miller said most of the opportunities she has been getting have come from connections she has made through writing poetry.

UB chair Nia Douglas hosted the poetry slam in honor of African-American Heritage Month, where students received free snacks, complementary “black excellence” scribed T-shirts and listened to Miller’s spoken word for an hour.

“Not only is (Miller) LGBTQ, but the way she delivers her work, her content is real and it’s personal,” Douglas said.

During the show, Miller said she was comfortable with getting personal and engaged the crowd in a Q&A segment. Miller told stories about her past relationships during the Q&A, with one story about an old girlfriend cheating with her cousin.

Miller paused after each recited poem and explained the context behind the pieces. She said her race had a big impact on her decision to be a writer.

Miller pulls situations from her diverse upbringing and transcends them into words.

“As much as the outside was impacting me to continue thinking about race and being queer and womanhood, I had a really strong base that kept me balanced and that keeps me balanced today,” Miller said. “I’m a black, queer, women navigating her way through America and that is offensive enough for me.”

Shakeinah West, a junior communication studies major, said her favorite part was the Q&A because she loved what Miller had to say about her background and where she started.

West did not hear of Miller before coming to the 7th Street Underground Wednesday night, but  said she “fell in love” with her after the performance.

Mike Santoria can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]