Spoken word: bringing power to poetry

Alumnus+Afaria+McKinney+performs+at+the+JFK+Library+on+Jan.+23.+McKinney+spoke+to+students+on+the+importance+of+self+love.
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Spoken word: bringing power to poetry

Alumnus Afaria McKinney performs at the JFK Library on Jan. 23. McKinney spoke to students on the importance of self love.

Alumnus Afaria McKinney performs at the JFK Library on Jan. 23. McKinney spoke to students on the importance of self love.

Mckenzie Ford

Alumnus Afaria McKinney performs at the JFK Library on Jan. 23. McKinney spoke to students on the importance of self love.

Mckenzie Ford

Mckenzie Ford

Alumnus Afaria McKinney performs at the JFK Library on Jan. 23. McKinney spoke to students on the importance of self love.

By Emmaline Sylvester, Reporter

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Members of the audience were glued to their seat as rhythmic and lyrical spoken art echoed across the main floor of the JFK Library. Students shuffling in and out of the Library would stop in their tracks and seek out the source of the powerful words, eager to listen to something bigger than themselves. Poets, wordsmiths and rappers alike connected with students on social, racial and emotional issues.

The Eagle Entertainment Coffee House series invited Power 2 the Poetry, a group founded by Bethany Montgomery, who was voted best local poet at the 2019 Bartlett Awards, to perform at the JFK library on Jan. 23.

“We are the spark which ignites the flame,” Montgomery said. “Stand up and be the change.”

Performers

Performances from EWU graduates invited by Montgomery filled the night, beginning with a love poem about nose hair, performed by Zachary Anderson-White, followed by a message about the importance of self-love from Afaria McKinney (AJ the Wordsmith) to Nik Michaels prompting the audience to close their eyes and take a breath. Power 2 the Poetry captivated the audience that night.

“A lot of what the poets had to say about how they were perceived due to their race resonated with me,” freshman Ayesha Bergman said.

Bergman added it was nice to hear different perspectives on similar issues that she faced growing up underprivileged as African American and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

Conveyed through humor, rap and poetry, junior Chris Cogswell found it enlightening to be educated on the struggles that many of the poets faced that he doesn’t personally identify with as a white male.

“It was very interesting to hear the breadth of issues not only racially but also emotionally from a completely varied and diverse group of people today,” Cogswell said.

Junior Lilly Solis appreciates that poetry works as a pathway to activism and provides an outlet for individuals to communicate about the marginalization they may be facing in society.

“Getting right in people’s faces really wakes people up and leads to progress,” Solis said.

Solis appreciates the steps that EWU takes to reach out to marginalized groups with the events and resources that the outreach programs and diversity groups have to offer.

“Many students are wondering how they can impact the world and bring about change,” Solis said.

She thinks that students can do that by taking advantage of the programs and events that EWU offers as an opportunity to educate themselves and better understand the experience of oppressed students to promote social justice within daily interactions.

“We don’t have much to lose but so much more to prove, the change starts with you,” Montgomery said. “So please Spokane, Cheney, EWU be the breakthrough.” The Coffee House series is a biweekly event organized by Eagle Entertainment. EWU alumnus and comedian Harry J. Riley is invited to perform at the next Coffee House event which will be on on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Mason Jar in downtown Cheney.•

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