Speaking out with spoken word

Once a month, UAA Student Activities and Commuter Programs hosts a spoken word event in the Den at the Student Union.

Spoken word consists of students, the community and perhaps a guest artist to share their poetry. Student activities coordinator, Corey Miller, hopes that spoken word events will continue to grow in future semesters by bringing up more well-known poets.

On April 6, UAA will host Mwende Katiwiwa, better known by her stage name, FreeQuency. She is a speaker and poet, who speaks out against sexual abuse and racial inequality.

“Every time I speak out, it is because I am making a conscious choice to do so,” FreeQuency wrote in a Dec. 2017 blog post in response to when she was asked to cut out a part of her TEDWomen speech concerning Black Lives Matter.

FreeQuency will hold a workshop starting from 2 to 7 p.m.

“I think it takes some coaching and a little bit of prodding with some of our students,” Miller said. “But when they speak, it is really powerful.”

Last semester, UAA hosted Amal Kassir, a Syrian-American Muslim woman who shares her stories of being a Muslim in America through poems of struggles, prejudice and inequality. She held a workshop which allowed students to brush up on their skills and perform their poems in front of a welcoming audience that night.

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Miller said that having Kassir on campus attracted over 60 students, a large number for this type of event.

“I had just never seen so many people be so vulnerable and willing to talk about their experiences,” Miller said.”Some people were talking about religion, people were talking about race, people were talking about coming to America from another country. It was just interesting because people wanted to talk about those things, but there’s not necessarily always a venue for that except for spoken word.”

Cheryl Williams, UAA student and the current Black Student Union president, took Kassir’s workshop and enjoyed the one-on-one advice she received. She called spoken word “raw, [non-]abrasive, vulnerable yet still powerful.”

“[Spoken word] is such a rhythmic way of speech,” Williams said.

Williams and the Black Student Union will be hosting “Finding Your Voice,” a public speaking workshop that discusses the difficulties women may have when it comes to formal or social public speaking settings, as well as learning new ways to overcome the fear of speaking out or in front of a larger audience. The workshop will be held Thursday, March 8 at 7 p.m. in Rasmuson Hall, Room 110.

Spoken word is an artistic way to express inner feelings, thoughts or struggles and can be done by anyone and everyone.

“There’s no special skill, it comes from the heart,” Williams said.

The next spoken word events at UAA are Wednesday, March 7 and Tuesday, April 3, both in the Student Union Den at 7 p.m. Attendance is free and light refreshments will be provided.

For those interested in performing, sign up is available at the Student Union Information Desk.