Poetry as self-expression

Andrew Stez

Students share at University Scholars evening of poetry

Sophomore Olivia Heale used to poetry slams in high school, and she wanted to bring a similar experience to Seattle Pacific University. For her, poetry is a way to share experiences, and what better way to do that than to hold a poetry night?

Through University Scholars, SPU’s honors program, Heale hosted the first poetry night on Thursday, May 9, where students shared original poetry and work by other poets in a calm, respectful and an easygoing environment filled with other students in Weter Memorial Hall.

While it was an opportunity for students to showcase their own work, it was also a way for them to share their feelings or other poems that have come to inspire them.

“Poetry is a way that people open up and share a part of their story and are willing to be vulnerable and I think that doesn’t happen all the time when we are all adults and we’re trying to act like that,” Heale said.

Olivia Heale, sophomore, performs her slam poetry piece. Maileca Gontinas | The Falcon

Heale said that people use a variety of different art forms to express themselves, but that poetry is especially important as it allows people who may not feel comfortable with art to express themselves as everyone is able to write.

Beyond coordinating the event, Heale performed some of her own poetry.

“My inspiration is probably sharing a part of my story,” Heale said. “A message of something I have internalized and learned in life that I feel other people might find valuable.”

She went on to express how one of the poems she wrote for the event discussed sexual objectification, which has become an important topic in light of the recent #MeToo movement.

“I think I have had — I mean I think a lot of girls and men too — have had experiences where I have felt super objectified or used or defined by my body for better or for worse,” said Heale.

“No matter what form that takes I don’t think that is ok and it bothers me and so I wanted to get that across.”

This message against sexual objectification displays the significance of poetry and its ability to inspire people to act.

“People are inspired by [poetry]. It’s a call to action, a political message, a way to get across strong emotions or feelings about things that aren’t going to come across in real life,” stated Heale.

While poetry can inspire someone to act, it can also inspire one to look closer at the world around them.

This is best seen by a poem read by Tristan Wine, a sophomore who discussed his feelings towards nature through poetry.

“I think that sometimes words can’t convey how you feel and so essentially poetry is a medium in which you can explain the unexplainable and paint a picture for someone that words can’t always do,” said Wine.

His poem expressed his feelings at observing a sunset.

“The purpose of words, as being able to communicate these ideas that even though you can try to explain something like a sunset there is nothing like seeing it in real life,” said Wine.

Poetry like many artistic endeavors allows people to talk about how their experiences have impacted their life.

Through this process of writing and sharing, they can learn more about themselves.

“Sitting down and taking the time to write a poem allows you to process how you feel about certain things, so I think the societal benefit is understanding yourself better so you can interact better with other people,” said Wine.