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Word Up! Spoken word poetry at Towson University

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This is the second year senior Sasha Hamlet has organized the event “Word Up: Female Spoken Word Performances,” and she hopes to make it an annual affair.

Five of the six performers gather for a picture following the program. (Photo by Brittani Bowling, Towson University student)

“Last year there were only about six or seven of them [that performed],” Hamlet said, and although that number was about the same this year, overall attendance was much improved.

With six student performers and a total of 19 students in attendance, the program held in the University Union at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, 2010, was a great success.

Organized in coordination with the Towson University Center for Student Diversity, program director Raft Woodus explained that the CSD works hard to “support the students” in their quest to host events, and that they “are usually collaborating with other groups on campus.”

Spoken word is a type of performance poetry that began in the mid 1990’s. Popular among those who want to add a bit of flair to their poetry, spoken word can also be a very therapeutic platform.

“Some people will recite their own stuff, and some others will recite what other people wrote,” senior Danyette Ashley said.

Ashley, who attended last year and usually performs, decided to sit this one out and support her friends. She enjoys spoken word “because it comes from your everyday life, and people can relate,” she said.

The atmosphere, characterized by dimed lights and a candle on each of the two large tables in the center of the room, was both relaxing and inviting. With the chairs organized in a half circle, a student emcee took his time to introduce each performer who then explained the inspiration behind their poetry as they took to the front of theroom.

Of the six performers, each had their own individual style. Some women drew their material from past or current relationships and others from personal struggles. One woman in particular shared how empowering spoken word can be.

“I want to seize the day one word at a time,” she said. “I’m in love with an art that writes back.”

Each performance was both unique and powerful. The passion could be felt with each word spoken, and the satisfaction each woman felt from performing was palpable.

Hamlet, the last to perform, dedicated her poem, “Life is Precious,” to her good friend, sophomore Coleatha Wilson, who recently passed away.

“You had a heart of gold, with a bright future, but now all I can do is carry your spirit, as I start my future,” Hamlet spoke. “Rest in Peace Coley,” she concluded.

Some women included song in the beginning or end of their poetry. Each of the two who did sang so beautifully and effortlessly captured the audience’s attention. Each audience member paid sole attention to the women as they performed, some even nodding their heads in agreement with the message.

The event, which lasted a little under an hour, was cut shorter than usual so that some attendees could attend the on-campus vigil for Wilson.

“Thank you all for coming, this was a lot of fun, and I appreciate your support,” Hamlet said.

To learn more about the Towson University Center for Student Diversity, visit their website or contact their main office at (410)-704-2051.

Written by brittanibowling

March 31, 2010 at 12:09 pm

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