Poetry Club Encourages Speaking Up and Speaking Out


(Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Barker)

(Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Barker)
(Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Barker)

Students across the U are speaking out and speaking up in a way that is close to their hearts.
The YouSpeak poetry club, a student group at the U, focuses on how to write poems, but also on how to recite the written word in a way that draws the listener and makes them feel the same emotions as the writer.
Benjamin Barker, a graduate student in English, was drawn into the club by his desire to pursue both spoken and written poetry.
“Slam poetry is a merge between theatre and academic poetry,” he said. “Far too often the poet may be a phenomenal writer, but more often than not the poet needs a theatre background to deliver it.”
The members of the club, including Barker, use the performances as a means of expression and a chance to learn.
“I stumble over my words when I’m simply speaking, but I love writing because it allows me to convey things in a way, and I can collect my words,” he said. “I really love listening to others’ work because it challenges my own personal paradigm, and I can learn something from everyone’s work.”
Barker does have a “background in theater” and said that’s one of the reasons why he joined.
Kari Lindsey, an alumna of the U who was president of the club for more than two years, said YouSpeak has a lot of “power” in the community and that written and spoken word go hand in hand.
She said finding a way to articulate who you are is important, and poetry at the U is an outlet.
“The U is such a great place to talk about things such as oppression, racism and sexism,” she said. “People can feel powerless against such advisories, but poetry is so empowering … When you are on stage there comes a pride in yourself, in your work and in your art.”
The YouSpeak poetry club is held every Tuesday in the Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Building and welcomes new members.
“I love seeing new poets come in and hear new voices and cultivate the new talent,” Barker said. “Each person brings something new to the table, concepts that may have been foreign to me but are so important. I can learn about [these things] because someone else has the passion to write and speak it.”
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