I have always been a fan of good writing.
Writers from the 1950s, including Kurt Vonnegut, William S. Burroughs, Charles Bukowski and Allen Ginsberg, all grace my bookshelves. Sylvia Plath coos me into poetic turmoil and Albert Camus takes me back to the days when absurdism reigned in the philosophy world.
Slamnesty, a semi-annual spoken word event hosted by Loyola’s Amnesty International chapter (a worldwide social justice organization focused on human rights), is a gracious reminder that the greatest writers of our generation are often walking among us.
Dozens of students packed into every available inch of floor space in The Coffee Shop (1135 W. Sheridan Road) on Feb. 9. The usual eclectic décor of the neighborhood cafe was hidden behind the mass of heavily layered bodies, all eagerly awaiting the next emotional exclamation from the lineup of speakers.
Thirteen undergraduate students performed a wide range of poetry, spoken word and song. Their pieces were powerful, loud and excruciatingly moving.
Speakers shared their experiences with sexual abuse, sexism and passing judgments. The crowd erupted with applause after Sophie Krueger, a freshman film and media production major, talked about her sexuality and denounced unwanted come ons by unruly people, and when senior Meriem Sadoun took us through her battle with identity in America.
“I have many different names,” Sadoun said, reading from her poem, “Every time I meet someone, I have to decide how to introduce myself.”
Sadoun explored the importance of a name, and brought the issue of cultural identity to the forefront of the night’s readings. She was able to turn what it most often seen as a non-important pronunciation issue (I can’t count how many times I’ve been called Kristian) into a defiant awareness of losing one’s identity in a foreign culture.
Love Jordan, a senior political science major, brought up similar sentiments about her sense of belonging in the United States. Taking us through her journey of rejecting her heritage during her adolescence, Jordan spoke about her regret of not noticing the value of her background sooner.
What struck me most about the performance of the speakers was their sharp wit and their ability to convey life-altering issues through poetic significance. It’s hard to come across writing that blurs the line between academia and nonsense jargon, but almost every writer performed with polished audacity.
As college students, our opinions on presidential candidates, gender equality and religion often take us farther apart from one another rather than bonding us closer. But events such as Slamnesty remind us that we all have commonalities.
A lot of us have suffered and grieved, or hoped for happiness. Slamnesty affords students the opportunity to remind one another of that. We are brought back to a place of understanding. There is no fear about speaking the truth because almost everyone in the room has come to share the experience.
The next Slamnesty will take place this coming fall. Students are welcome to sign up with Amnesty once the event nears. There is almost always a $5 suggested donation at the door to go towards Amnesty’s mission to fight social injustices worldwide. The next Slamnesty will take place this coming fall. Students are welcome to sign up with Amnesty once the event nears. There is almost always a $5 suggested donation at the door to go towards Amnesty’s mission to fight social injustices worldwide.