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Celebrating Black History Month through poetry

By Cass Doherty

Students joined Boston author Tamara Leigh for a poetry slam on Tuesday, Feb. 14 in DPAC.

The event was co-sponsored by the Black Student Union (BSU), The Onyx and the Center for Inclusive Excellence. It was part of FSU’s Black History Month celebration, according to Cassandra Teneus, an FSU senior and BSU president.

Leigh said, “I’ve been writing poetry since I was a little girl.” She said she “likes the sound of words.”

Leigh said she had recently written a book called “Base,” and had originally planned to read an excerpt from the book. However, she said once she was told the event was being held as part of a Black History Month celebration, she instead wrote a piece specifically for the event.

She said when she received the invitation, she started thinking about what she wanted to write about. “The way that I enjoy writing is that I like to research words,” said Leigh.

“I started to research the word ‘black,’” she said, “and I got to related words, like ‘black widow,’ ‘bad luck,’ ‘black cat’ and ‘black lies.’” She started looking deeper into the word, beyond the definition, and said she “came across words like ‘anger,’ ‘evil’ and ‘un- happy.’”

Lee said she was confused, be- cause she was looking for a definition and felt she wasn’t finding what she was looking for. She said that was how she came up with the piece she was going to share with the audience – a piece she called “Definition.”

“No plantation, segregation or abuse, no servitude, whips, chains nor noose, de ne me,” Lee read. “I carried America on my back.”

Following Leigh’s performance, FSU students shared some of their original works.

Ymahri Brown, a senior, read an untitled poem celebrating her skin color in accordance with Black History Month.

“They called me tar, burnt toast, purple, like, ‘you so black you purple,’” read Brown. “My dark skin does not de ne who I am, where I will go, who I will meet or the type of revenge I will seek.”

Megan Muise, a senior, read a piece she wrote “in the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

“With each breath I tried to let pieces of how I loved you go, to disappear into the darkness above,” Muise read. “Another spark, another hit, another minute suffoocating by the memory of you.”

senior Alejandra Estrella closed the event with a Valentine’s Day poem she said she wrote in high school. “Why don’t you like me? Never realize I’m in class?” Estrella read. “Dear Valentine, do you enjoy your view now? From beneath my bed? ... Yeah, you love me now, don’t you? Sincerely, Crazed Lover.”

Teneus hoped the event would give students the courage to speak up and “to vocalize what they want versus being afraid, especially students of color.” Teneus said the poetry slam was a chance for every student to have their voice heard. “Although it’s Black History Month, we feel it’s very important for every student of every color to voice their opinion,” she said.


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