The Student Activities Programming Board (SAPB) and Sigma Alpha Mu hosted a poetry jam session in Rogers Hall on January 22nd, 8p.m.-10p.m. Attendees were encouraged to bring a canned food item to donate to a local food shelter. The session featured Spoken Word artist, Jinahie. She is an Egyptian-American performance artist, educator, and social justice activist. She is in her 5th year of her national tour. She performs at colleges and universities all across the country.
The night started with a poetry workshop, with the end goal being for the students to create their own spoken word. The original plan was for Jinahie to perform along with other KWC students who signed up. There weren’t many students who signed up, so Jinahie decided to host a workshop, but students were still welcome to perform after her. There was a rule that there could not be anyone observing the workshop. Only participating members were welcome, because she wanted it to feel like a safe place for the students to express themselves.
Jinahie began the workshop with one of her poems to give students an idea of what Spoken Word is. The workshop’s purpose was to learn the art of Spoken Word. Jinahie described it as an art of communication. Spoken Word is a vulnerable way of communication. Because this type of poetry can cause people to be nervous, she had everyone partner up to do icebreakers.
The first icebreaker had students pick a partner they did not know and have never met. They then had to stare at their partner for a whole minute. Students were not allowed to talk, look away, and they had to keep their hands to their side. The purpose of this was for students to pay attention to the feelings and emotions that come to the surface during this icebreaker. Jinahie said that these were the feelings that the students’ poem would be about when they arrived at the writing process.
The next icebreaker had them hug their partner for another minute. This was meant to feel awkward, but students had to keep note of how they felt while performing this awkward task. It also helped with loosening up their nerves because it was optional to perform their poems at the end of the workshop.
There were 5 different writing phases. The first one was to just start writing words down that came to their mind. This exercise used the students’ inner conscience based on the feelings that came up when performing the icebreakers. Jinahie said that the words didn’t have to make sense and they were not allowed to stop writing until the timer was up.
The next phase was to make connections between the words on the list. This made the students find meaning behind the words they wrote. She wanted them to discover what they were feeling and why. After this, the students had to write 10 lines for the poem. They were welcome to write more if things came to mind. The lines didn’t have to be in order or make sense. Her rule was that the students could not erase or scribble out lines. Jinahie did not want the students to be too hard on themselves. She explained how it helps the creative process.
With a base for their poem, the next step was to write as many lines as the students could. This time, she wanted it to be more structured. They were allowed to use lines from their first list of 10, but the goal was to add. The final step was to add to that longer list of lines to make the poem the best it could be.
Once the workshop was finished, Jinahie proceeded to tell stories about her experiences that have inspired some of her work. She also performed a couple of more poems for the students. Jinahie then opened the floor for anyone who wanted to perform work they had brought or had just created. A handful of students shared their poems and Jinahie would give feedback and praise them for being brave.