By Shannon Wilson
The annual Poetry Slam closed St. Michael’s MLK Week on Friday, Jan. 27. The MLK Jr. Society hosted the event which included six upcoming poets from across the country.
The poets included Danez Smith of Michigan, Mic-Andre of New York, Cedrick Dale Hoard of Wisconsin, and Denise Casey, Muslim Girls, and Rajni Eddins of Vermont, who joined the students of Saint Mike’s and members of the community who gathered at the McCarthy Recital Hall Friday evening.
The emotions in the room ranged from joy to anger to sadness as the poets shared their stories and as the audience snapped, clapped and wooed in response. Manuela Yeboah member of the MLK Jr. Society spoke to the success of the event.
She said, “It gave a lot of people a chance to engage with the speakers.”
“All the events of MLK Week had an exceptional turnout,” said Moise St. Louis, Associate Dean of Students, Director of Multicultural Student Services.
Yeboah noted that the annual convocation had a smaller audience than usual. “The content of the convocation was important this year for the events that happened,” Yeboah said. “I wish more people had gone.”
“Honestly, with everything that has been going on, on campus, we all have to step up and more people need to get involved.” Yeboah said, “That does not mean making a poster and marching, but when events are going on that are trying to raise awareness, more students need to come to them.”
Poetry is just one way students can have their voices heard and feel empowered. After hosting two Slam Poetry competitions for students in the fall of 2016, St. Louis said there will be more to come in the spring. “There are unlimited ways students can feel empowered,” St. Louis said. “I think the programs we put together simply trigger what your values are and question the people who choose to act hatefully.”
The Center for Multicultural Affairs and Students offer these “unlimited ways.” “CMAS has had so many events to raise awareness and give platforms to address these issues,” Yeboah said, “The problem comes when people willingly choose not to go to an event because of misconceptions.”
Residence Life also offers platforms for students, Yeboah who is Secretary of Diversity said, “SA definitely supports a lot of other clubs on campus that help with social activism.”
The Onion River Review is another way for students to have their voices heard. It features student work including poetry, visual arts and prose. “The actual published review is great because anyone in the community can submit work.” Staff member, Lily Gardner said. Even if a piece does not make it into the issue, people will still be reading the work to consider it for the issue, Gardner continued.
The Onion River also hosts open readings for people to come and read their own work or others work that inspires them, Gardner said. “It definitely creates a platform for students to express themselves.”
Gardner also went to the Poetry Slam, and noted how a student brought the work of Danez Smith to the last Open Reading on February 2. “I felt really lucky that we got to have that many great poets,” she said.
The deadline for the 2016 issue is February 9, 2017. To submit your own work, contact William Marquess, the advisor or email firstname.lastname@example.org.