BSU Presents Poetry Slam

February 23, 2017
Elizabeth Nisly, Contributing Writer

On the evening of Feb. 15, a small group of students, faculty, and staff members gathered in the Black Box Theater to hear a poetry slam. This poetry slam was put on by the Black Student Union (BSU) and was one of the culminating events of Black History Month here at EMU.

While Graduate Student Julian Turner had several prepared pieces, he immediately invited the audience to get up front and share as well. Many people rose to the occasion. Director of EMU’s STAR program Katie Mansfield performed a dramatic poem composed on the spot. Hillside Residence Director Tyler Goss shared a biblical slam poem in two voices, stepping back and forth across the front of the room to represent the dissenting characters in his poem. Junior Tae Dews and First-year Ariel Barbosa each sang a song. The atmosphere was encouraging as more and more people got up to share. “Tae inspired me,” Barbosa said before she began to sing her song, which she had previously planned on simply reading. Junior Brittany Williams read Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird” and Clarissa White powerfully delivered “My Black is Beautiful” by Andria Thompson to name a few of the pieces shared.

The performances were not confined to traditional spoken-word or slam poems. “There were many different types of poetry represented,” said First-year Abigail Shelly, “and I appreciated the diversity and the social justice issues touched on.”

The evening ended with a poem read in Spanish by a visiting scholar. “I always love to hear what people have to share,” said Senior BSU Co-President Oksana Kittrell, “especially those whom I would assume are shy and reserved. I think it’s always a great space for all to come and express themselves or just get out and meet people whom you don’t normally interact with.”

“I found it interesting because slam allows us to better understand the poetry engaged,” said Junior Aminata Wallet Mohamed. “I have always been told that slam meetings give poets the public freedom to express themselves, and that is what I’ve noticed. There was a little interaction between the poets and the public. I think slam allows a new approach to poetry.”

taken from the Weather Vane

Elizabeth Nisly is a Spanish and writing studies major in the language and literature department at EMU.