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Poetry Slam a smash hit

A photo of students in Sandela's participating in Poetry Slam.
Madison Behringer / THE GATEPOST

By Ryan O'Connell, Emma Lyons

The English Department recently held an advertised open-mic poetry night at Sandella’s Flatbread Café, Oct. 22.

Lisa Eck, chair of the English department, kicked off the event by saying how happy she was to continue the tradition of poetry week. She encouraged students to read their own work and consider becoming involved with The Onyx, FSU’s literary magazine.

The Onyx meets every other Wednesday via Zoom, and releases an issue every spring. Eck added that the club is a great opportunity for studio art majors and writers to get their work out there.

“In the fall, it’s a lot about getting together to share work, and then in the spring putting together a publication of art and literature,” she said.

Throughout the night, nine different students shared their work with the audience. Among them, there were contributions from students ranging between freshmen and seniors.

Freshman Eryn McCarter Penney began the show by reading one of her poems, titled “Broken Glass.” Penney’s poem set the tone of the night as it highlighted the event was a safe place for presentation.

Second to the microphone was sophomore Aleta Sosa, who read her poem “Special.”

The piece continued the mood of the night, and touched upon Sosa’s difficult experiences through elementary and middle school. “I tried to stay more quiet. But of course I couldn’t help myself. I would scream and cry and throw things across the room. I didn’t want to be this way.”

The poem then shifted as she spoke of overcoming these difficulties and how it has gone on to influence her. “The new teacher taught us that everyone makes mistakes,” she said. “The new teacher taught us that we were worth it, and everyone can always improve.”

However, not all of the poems were stand-alone pieces. Sophomore Christina Chinetti shared short excerpts from a collection of poems she compiled for her book, all revolving around each other.

Chinetti shared poems “White Picket Fence,” and “Backyard,” on her [rst trip to the microphone. She returned to present several times throughout the night, taking advantage of the open mic.

Senior Sarah Sagan, president of the English club, took photos for the club’s Instagram throughout the event. She also read her poem “Cycle of Life.”

Freshman Emma Geissler then read her poem “The Habit of the Destructive,” a piece about her experience of being “trapped in a relationship that was no good for either of us.” She followed up by reading a connected poem, titled “Keep Your Mind.”

The open-mic event was also opened to those not currently enrolled at FSU. Olivia Banks, former editor of The Onyx from 2020-2021, took the opportunity to read her poems, “Flower Girl (Empath),” “Watered Down,” “Book Character Friend,” and the ending of her poem “Love Language,” which was published in the 2021 edition of The Onyx.

Alphonse Smith, a junior, contributed by sharing her piece, “Sheeple,” which discussed the importance of empathy and challenged the conception that sheep were “mindless.” Smith’s poem, along with many others read that night, were pieces of writing open to interpretation.

“I have to question, what’s so bad about being a part of the flock? If it means caring about others, checking up on them, not leaving anyone behind,” she read.

The last reader of the night was junior Leo Jalali, treasurer of The Onyx, who read a piece of prose from his series of works connected to New Orleans. The piece touched upon the impact of frequent natural disasters on the city.

“I rolled into the outskirts of the city of New Orleans. On the wicked edge of the asphalt, it’s last jabs resonating through my thoughts,” he read. “A sudden thought crossed my mind, and induced panic. Why did we return?”

Eck returned to speak after Jalali’s prose, closing the night by asking for feedback from the audience concerning the structure of the event.

Aleta Sosa was the first of many participants to say that they should “do this again sometime.”

Christina Chinetti agreed, and added that “[she] thought this was all brilliant.”

Eck reminded the audience once more that the English Club and The Onyx are always looking for new members, and that they are happy to hear from anyone interested in writing creatively. She ended the presentation by expressing her joy to hear from all of the poets that night.

She said “we live in the stories and find a home in the stories we read by published authors we don’t know, but on a night like tonight, we can live in each other’s stories.”


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