Free Expression Poetry Club empowers students, seeks new members through new methods of recruitment

April 18, 2017

Halle Thornton

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     William Shakespeare isn’t the only person who can make people feel inspired by words.

     Students can have a similar impact through the Free Expression Poetry Club.

     Four members are part of the Free Expression Poetry Club this semester, including club president Isioma West.

     Recruiting new members has been a challenge for the club, according to West, who is encouraging more workshops for other clubs to get students interested.

     “I’ve been focusing more on events around workshops that people can see that poetry isn’t just Shakespeare, (or) formal kind of stuff,” said West, a senior computer science major.

     Last semester, the Latino Student Union came to a workshop hosted by the club. The turnout was great, according to West.

     Finding one’s voice was the theme of the workshop. All of the attendees wrote a poem that began with “I am,” and at the end of the workshops, people shared what they had written.

     This semester, the club invited Transmission, the transgender alliance club on campus, to come to a workshop where self acceptance was encouraged through worksheets.

     “I talked to an officer of that club (Transmission), and we decided that (self acceptance) was very important to go over with the rest of the club,” said West.

     The club is a safe environment for people to come and feel accepted, said West.

     “A lot of it is just conversation. That’s what I try and stress when I am recruiting members,” he said.

     During the weekly meeting, the club shares any new or old poetry they have written in the past week, conducts workshops, free writes or follows a specific prompt.

     At the end of the meeting, members have the opportunity to share their original work.

     Senior sociology major Bettina Bich, vice president of the club, joined the club in 2015 when she attended an open-mic night at Clyde’s.

     Bich said that her favorite part of the club is the ability to feel comfortable sharing her work. “It’s hard as a writer to get feedback and have a safe environment to do so.

     It’s nice to have a kind, courteous environment to grow as a writer,” she added.

     According to Bich, the biggest challenge for the club has been the idea that three of the four members are graduating in the spring, and that the poetry movement seems to be falling flat.

     “My biggest concern is how do we keep the club alive after we’re gone?” said Bich.

     In the past, the club has hosted open-mic nights at Clyde’s, but West is shifting from spoken word to written word.

     West has been working with the library and the Free Talk series as well. There will be a celebration for National Poetry Month from 7-8:30 p.m. in the third floor apse.

     “Poetry is a way of empowerment, and it’s also therapeutic because you start conversations and you tell people your story. A lot of people don’t know that,” said West.

     The Free Expression Poetry Club meets every Thursday from 5:00-8:30 p.m. in the MOSAIC office.

     For more information about the club, visit Mountain Lion Connect, or visit the club’s Facebook page.