SpokenSilence, University of Richmond’s only creative writing club, hosted its first event of the year, a poetry jam, in the Brown-Alley Room of Weinstein Hall, Friday, Feb. 24. The program, co-hosted by the Cultural Advisers, featured an open mic for all Richmond and Westhampton students to share any sort of creative writing, including raps, songs and other verse.
The two-year-old club had four members and no advertising budget this past fall, but has almost tripled its numbers this spring, with its Facebook group boasting 122 “likes.” The poetry jam was the first of three events that are planned for the coming semester, and its purpose is simply to share creative work — as opposed to a “slam,” which suggests a competition. The club meets at 5 p.m. every Sunday in the ThinkTank, and aims to be a place where students can express freedom of thought and opinion through various forms of creative verse.
“I was walking through the Commons when a couple of my friends in the ThinkTank gestured to me to come on in,” said freshman Austin Nuckols, a new addition to the club. “I figured I might as well try it out.”
SpokenSilence was started by senior Ra-Twoine Fields when he was a freshman — Fields said that he “wanted a space for poets and lovers of poetry to have a space to talk and enjoy their work and others.”
“Poetry is about having a voice, and for me, specifically, it’s about social justice,” said the president of SpokenSilence, sophomore Danielle Lahee. “It’s an element for chance; it questions everything and creates space. I want to connect with the Richmond community and help create even more of this space.”
Lahee took over as president her freshman year, but realized this year that if she wanted to make things happen, it was going to have to come from her and her vice president, Steve Minnich. Lahee hopes to co-host a poetry slam (a poetry jam/reading with judges) in downtown Richmond with students from Virginia Commonwealth University, she said.
“If we can’t put forward as many writers as VCU can,” Minnich said, “then we don’t want to do it. It’s that simple.”
The next jam will be in collaboration with UR Downtown some time in April, which is National Poetry Month. The jam will be held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, but the details are still pending, Minnich said.
The poetry jam started with a poetry reading by Lahee. Nuckols then read three sonnets entitled, “Cheese”, “The Squirrel” and “Geese” — the last of which he said he had finished writing 15 minutes before the jam. Minnich and Fields also presented pieces, and then opened up the floor to members and non-members.
“We want this to be free-flowing, a chill environment where everyone is free to read whatever they would like to,” Lahee said in her introduction.
Lahee said that the one thing many members had in common— besides a love of writing — was that they had been involved in other aspects of her and Minnich’s lives.
Contact reporter Anika Kempe at firstname.lastname@example.org.