Photos by Adam Rogan | Students performed poetry on a variety of topics from politics to romance in the Turner Jazz Center.
BY ADAM ROGAN
Despite autumn’s chill finally setting in outside, a warm and welcoming atmosphere pervaded in the Turner Jazz Center on the night of Nov. 11.
DU Spoken Word, a poetry group on campus, was hosting an event where Drake students could perform their poetry with their peers.
About a dozen poems were performed on a range of topics, including heritage, sexual assault, politics and romance. Some were personal and some were funny, some saddening and some optimistic, but all received strong support and love from those in attendance.
While at least one poet admitted to performing his poetry for the first time, several poets were veterans of the stage.
“(DU Spoken Word provides) a way for me to still be an English person and still do poetry and get my poetry heard,” said Rin Clasen, a sophomore DU Spoken Word member majoring in secondary education, “without it being something I have to commit 20,000 hours of auditioning and practicing to.”
Still, others came only to watch and listen, not to share.
“I like spoken word poetry,” senior Megan Ellis said. “I didn’t know it was a passion of mine until I went to an event at Java Joes. One of my friends was like, ‘It’s going to be super cool.’ I’m not a big poetry person, but I had faith.”
Ellis keeps coming back to spoken word performances to support a friend who often performs poems regarding sensitive topics.
“I always think that spoken word is a form of therapy,” DU Spoken Word Vice President Sarah Antongiovanni said. “A lot of people who get up there and talk about their story have been through some s**t … I think there’s something powerful in being able to get that out and have people be able to listen to it. And not just listen to it but engage with it.”
As emcee for the night, Antongiovanni told the audience, early on, “Poetry is meant to be interactive.”
“It’s a fun way to talk about topics that would maybe be really sensitive,” Ellis said. “It’s a fun way to start a social dialogue over those tough subjects and to kind of help engage an audience who likely has experienced similar things.”
DU Spoken Word benefits from being in Des Moines, allowing the group to be a part of a strong local community that is a spoken word “hotspot” of sorts, according to Antongiovanni. There are a number of organizations that participate in spoken word and slam poetry, such as Run DSM, Drake University’s Engaged Citizen Corps and Say What! Poetry, the latter two of which co-sponsored Friday’s event.
“There is a huge community here,” Clasen said, “which is fan-freaking-tastic.”
The event’s objective was to raise money for DU Spoken Word’s planned trip to CUPSI, a poetry slam competition coming up in April in Chicago.
“If you’ve heard of Button Poetry, a lot of the poets from that come out of CUPSI,” Clasen said. “So it’s really cool if we can get there.”
The next DU Spoken Word event is planned for 8 p.m., Nov. 28 in Olmsted Center. The topic for that night will be social justice.