As the lights dimmed and romantic music played softly in the background, the Johnson Center Bistro was reminiscent of a coffeehouse scene.

Spicy vegetables rolls, oven-baked cookies and hot artichoke and spinach dip lined the buffet, as students began to fill the room, preparing themselves for the performance.

As the first poet stepped on the stage, the crowd became quiet.

“I love. I care. I feel you in. I feel you all around me,” recites Christopher John Hoppe, a poet and published author who has been writing poetry all his life.

Sponsored by the Mariposas Mentoring Program and the MU Chapter of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc., the annual Shades of Brown: Open Mic and Poetry event inspires different ethnic communities to come and be a part of literature and culture.

Hoppe, author of poetry books “Tears, Spirit and Heart” and “Christina’s Rose of a Tear,” read his most prized works and silenced the crowd with his poetry about his love interest Christina.

Engaged in art since the age of seven, Hoppe’s passionate words resonated with many Mason students and gave chills to some.

“His lines are so simple, yet to the point. He seems so passionate. He just gives me the goosebumps,” said Andrea Rosales, a junior integrative studies major.

Hoppe is an international poetry award winner, and has received the Emily Dickinson Award and the Editor’s Choice Award by the International Poet’s Society.

He speaks to various schools and universities around the world, often for art, poetry or Hispanic Heritage Month events.
The event also included poetry from other students, faculty members and other adults in various languages. Though it was a Hispanic Heritage Month, there were a blend of cultures and races from all around the world who participated in the event.
Along with other Hispanic organizations, the Hispanic Student Association (HAS) has been putting on events for Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) for students to embrace their heritage and learn about their culture.

Shades of Brown was one of the last events before HSA’s “Que Bonita Bandera” dance party to close out the month.

“This is my first event for Hispanic Heritage Month,” said senior government major Derek Perez. “I am not connected to my Guatemalan roots so much, but by coming here, it’s a start and it definitely has opened my eyes.”

Other students who have been a part of the Latin community for a long time were excited to be spending time learning more about their culture.

“I think the whole point of this event is to bring awareness to Latin writers and culture and show it in a different perspective through poetry,” Rosales says.

When Hoppe was asked what inspires him to write poetry, he gave a simple, one word answer: life.