As a soft rain trickles down the large window panes of Hendershots Coffee bar in downtown Athens on Tuesday night, a quiet yet confident voice rings out inside the dimly lit cafe. A pregnant pause settles in after the voice fades away, and slowly a chorus of gentle snaps washes over the speaker on the small, makeshift stage. Before long, another speaker takes her turn climbing onto this platform of confession, of liberation, and of art, and yet another voice begins curling throughout the cups of coffee and stacks of books resting on worn, wooden tables.
Lovers of poetry signed up one after one to stand before a captivated audience and to recite their favorite poems, both original and published, as a part of the Undergraduate English Association Poetry Slam held on April 18. Just one of many events hosted throughout the year by the UEA, the intent of the slam was to help build community among English students at the University of Georgia.
“We have a great vision of what it could be,” says junior UEA executive board member, Alyssa Gill.
Formed in the spring of 2016, the UEA aims to help English students find opportunities for employment following graduation.
“English majors are so wanted on the job market,” says Olivia McCoy, senior UEA event coordinator. “You can’t teach someone how to write, and you can tell where there’s passion and where there isn’t.”
With April being National Poetry Month, the 8 members of the student executive board thought hosting a social poetry slam would be a great opportunity to drum up some participation going into the end of the semester. Providing a platform to speak about subjects of interest, themes of poems ranged from a variety of topics, such as racism, sexuality, depression, and politics
In addition to helping English majors find a career following graduation, the UEA also places emphasis on strengthening bonds throughout the English department and building community with other students interested in literature and writing.
“This has been our most successful event so far,” reflects McCoy, smiling as she scans the room of happy faces and chatting students.
At the end of the night, the names of 5 lucky participants were drawn from a raffle to choose from prizes of blank journals and rhyming dictionaries to encourage a continued interest in poetry. Although these parting gifts encouraged students to participate in the reading, the greater gift was having the opportunity to build friendships and share literature with the budding English community.