The freedom to tell their story but the apprehension they feel when faced with telling the truth is what poets and Ithaca College students alike revealed during the “In Your Own Words!” poetry slam on Wednesday.
Artists and student poets came together in IC Square to evoke emotion in the crowd. All the performers that took the stage shared personal moments, fears, dreams, experiences and stories with the audience.
The poetry slam was organized by members of the Student Activities Board, Created Equal and the African Latino Society. Sophomore LuLu Helliwell of SAB, junior Aaron Lipford of Created Equal and junior Jordana Jarrett of ALS came together to put on the event.
The poetry slam began with readings by touring poets Jinahie, Carlos Robson, and Odd?Rod.
The artists said the validation of generating change within an individual’s life exceeds any and all personal gain. Artist Jinahie discussed the idea of sharing her gift with other people.
“It is the most gratifying thing to enrich someone’s experience as a human being,” Jinahie said.
Carlos Robson spoke of Trayvon Martin, working with kids with mental disabilities, believing in God and strangers on a plane that have all burned a memory in his mind. In his first poem, Robson compared the fears of flying to the anxiety of life.
“I am unprepared for emergencies. We have been practicing panic our entire lives,” Robson said. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard the rest of your lives and prepare yourself for a state of emergency.”
Robson said he wrote and performed to tell stories. He said he always wanted to be a storyteller, though he wasn’t sure how to do so. When given an assignment to write a poem by a dance teacher in college, Robson found that poetry was exactly how he wanted to tell stories.
Jinahie said she also had a defining moment that ignited her career as a poet. When faced with the death of her best friend in 10th grade, she was compelled to write. Since then, she said, she writes simply because she can’t stop.
Jinahie shared stories about her father, her insecurities and her grandmother’s experience with female genital mutilation in Egypt.
About 10 students followed the lead of these artists and stepped up to the stage with their own original work. Students spoke on lost love, difficult relationships and their families.
After the event the students and poets were able to interact one-on-one and share their reactions, beliefs, stories and advice. Many students stayed after the event to take advantage of this opportunity.
Jarrett attributed the idea for this event to the poet Odd?Rod, who thought it would be beneficial for students to hear one another’s poems, share some of their own and be inspired by the unique yet very human stories, triumphs and fears of people. Jarrett said she hopes this event had a lasting impact on all those involved.
“As students we all come from different facets of life; we are all vastly different,” she said. “Despite these differences, I think every student in the room learned something from the poets and student performers.”