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The Blue & Gray Press | July 17, 2018

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Political Poets Collective sponsors Resistance Through Poetry event

Political Poets Collective sponsors Resistance Through Poetry event


Staff Writer

An empty stage with a single microphone sits at the front of the Underground. The atmosphere is set with background music centered around resistance and triumph. Members of the community, as well as UMW students, anxiously await the demonstration of resistance.

The first performer steps up.

She plays a musical track behind her words as they flow smoothly from her mouth to the ears of the packed room. Everyone leans forward to pay attention, to respect the way she resists and to hear her cry for justice. She ends her poem with a shout for equality, for recognition, and the room goes silent. Not a moment later, applause thunders throughout the small room and a smile graces her face. She is heard, and she is proud.

On Friday, February 2, the Underground held an event hosted by the Political Poets Collective in partnership with the James Farmer Multicultural Center as part of Black History Month. The goal of the night was to highlight struggles of minorities and resistance through poetry. Students from all different walks of life volunteered to share the way they resist oppression and discrimination by participating in Resistance Through Poetry.

Carmen Florez, a super senior double majoring in music and international affairs, said that this was her first event sharing her thoughts and beliefs. She decided to participate because “the political tension is something that has to be discussed.” Florez also said that she is “unapologetic” about the way she is resisting because she wants to “bring awareness to Hispanic and women’s issues.”

Florez also shared that Resistance Through Poetry is extremely personal to her because her mother immigrated to America and Florez was raised hearing her mother’s stories of difficulty and success. Florez continues to resist and “express herself in these situations” because someone has to “start the dialogue.” She was the first speaker of the night and kicked off the evening of poetry with an original song.

The majority of the poems read by UMW students were original work about their own personal struggles. Every single performer was passionate about what they had to say and the topics were extremely diverse. The poems featured a variety of topics including rape, becoming openly gay, environmental issues, the disrespect many people have for their homeland, and many other equally important issues.

After a short intermission, the master of ceremonies invited the main event to the stage. Venessa Marco, a famous activist poet visiting from Harlem, New York, stepped up onto the platform and gave a riveting performance. She shared three poems about her current and past struggles, as well as what can be done in the future to make the planet a better place for all people. Marco’s parents are from Cuba and Puerto Rico, and she draws much of her poetic inspiration from the culture and oppression in those two countries.

After Marco had shared her pieces, more UMW students were able to share their own poems about current issues. Milen Mahari, vice president of the Political Poets Collective, shared an extremely moving piece about the refugee crisis and how she is personally affected. The audience was enraptured by the way she spoke and the passion in her words. As the night wrapped up, a final message was pressed upon the audience; we are all a family and we are all united.

When the event was over, Sebrine Abdulkadir, a junior majoring in international affairs with a minor in social justice and the president of the Political Poets Initiative, described the process of putting together Resistance Through Poetry. She stated that this event was created as a “free space to express social injustices, while also hearing different perspectives.” Abdulkadir also explained that the most rewarding part of the event was all of the reactions from people attending and the opportunity to kick off Black History Month.

For more information on the Political Poets Collective, email to group at or follow them on Instagram @umwpoets.