By Kristen Griffith (Whetstone Staff Writer)
Freshman Nyair Stanford needed advice on a poem he wrote for his freshmen seminar class. That is what led him to the spoken-word club, SPEAK, formed this year by a handful of students who want to be both writers and performers.
“I wanted to get feedback from people who do spoken-word,” Stanford said.
Clara Peña, president of the club, suggested Stanford attend a meeting.
“Our main goal is to improve ourselves as writers, and to develop a spoken-word community at Wesley,” she said.
Peña was a part of the Providence poetry slam team in Rhode Island and participated in national competitions. She wanted to start something that related to that.
Kevin Johnson, vice president of the club, tried to start a club last year, but he was the only spoken-word artist on campus.
The two used their spoken-word backgrounds and started SPEAK.
“It is basically a way to free your mind; to speak out,” Peña said. “That’s how it got the name.”
SPEAK is not just for spoken-word artists and rappers. It can also be for people who recite, like the secretary of the group, Mercedes Myrick.
“Even if you don’t perform, it revolves around the art of writing,” Peña said.
Any form of literature is accepted.
“Our main goal is to improve ourselves as writers,” she said.
Johnson said he runs the workshop and is the main voice of constructive criticism.
“Nothing is better than giving feedback to people and seeing them apply it and become better because of it,” he said.
Johnson said he witnessed that with Stanford, sophomore Patrick Schlosser and other members of the club.
“They all displayed talent with their individual crafts,” he said. “If they keep coming and learning, they have the potential to make drastic impacts on people and their surroundings.”
Schlosser said he likes how everyone can give his or her opinion on what he is doing right or wrong. He said Johnson helped him out a lot.
“He opened my eyes up to different approaches of how I can write what I am thinking,” he said.
Schlosser said that Johnson’s talent makes him want to be better.
“You listen to one of his poems and you want to write all night,” he said.
Schlosser said he has been writing for six years and only performed once, but hopes that will change.
Sophomore Dominic McAnulty said he likes the diversity of the group.
“Getting different views on how to write poems and perform poems just makes everyone better,” he said. “Seeing it from other people’s views is great.”
McAnulty has been writing since eighth grade, but he has yet to perform.
“Once I have more confidence in my pieces, I want to perform,” he said.
SPEAK plans to work on shows and hosting a lot of open mics.
“We hope the interest in poetry spreads,” Peña said. “Not only on campus but in the area. Poetry sometimes can be viewed as a dead art. We hope to revive the art and hope people can change their views from it.”