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SPEAK UP gives students creative outlet

Poets, musicians, dancers perform artistic talents

February 2, 2012

By Victoria Davis

Poets and artists exercise freedom of expression that gives voice to shades of experience that often become inspiration for others. SPEAK UP, a student poetry slam organization on campus, has been promoting poetic expression among students. The art of poetry, music, dance—the art of being an artist—is not unfamiliar to SPEAK UP, which aims to give students the opportunity to perform their talents and improve their craft.

SPEAK UP is currently run by Jeannise Andres, senior, president and founder of SPEAK UP. When Andres is not present, Shuntaya Howard, a senior Social Work major at CSU, leads a critique workshop in which students perform their poetry and receive feedback from the audience. Howard holds this workshop on Tuesdays from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in Howard Mims African American Cultural Center, MC 137.

“We allow the poets to come in and freshen up on their poetry, learn how to project their voices, learn how to memorize poetry instead of using the paper,” Howard said. “It’s just a freedom of expression workshop. We like to critique; that’s what my workshop is.”

In addition to the workshop led by Howard, Andres leads a writing workshop from 6:30-7:30 p.m., which furthers the writers’ development.

“SPEAK UP has added an exciting and engaging environment to campus that is already being modeled at other universities,” Andres said. “I am really proud of our organization. Organizations all across the campus are now using poetry as a means to attract student interest and working together to develop programs that sharpen the public speaking, writing and reading skills of university students as a whole.”

The arts have played an important role in progressive movement in America. After the American Civil War ended in 1865, a great migration took place due to racial segregation, inequality and economic depression in the South. As a result, African-Americans began to migrate to the Northern United States by the millions.

In New York City, African-American poets, writers, artists and musicians gave rise to a progressive movement, the Harlem Renaissance, which laid the foundation for the civil rights movement. Artists, intellectuals and entrepreneurs brought talents and ambitions that helped make the movement a success. Cultural movements such as the Harlem Renaissance provide inspiration to organizations like SPEAK UP. Students who are members of Speak Up expressed their appreciation for its student advocacy and support.

“SPEAK has giving me the opportunity to engage in conversation that directly effects students on campus as well as in life situations,” said Robert Bradford, a senior Business Administration major at CSU. “I love SPEAK UP because the people that are involved are very supportive and members actively engage in the performances of all of the poets that participate.”

Students have the opportunity for success within organizations which are for students and by students. Students have the opportunity to view the world through different lenses.

“SPEAK UP is a place to share motivation and inspiration,” said Kenneth Day, CSU sophomore.” I joined SPEAK UP because when I hear other people’s poems and ideas, it makes me more creative and forces me to think outside of the box; see things from other perspectives.”

SPEAK UP is open to everyone; even those who are not CSU students. There are no auditions. Every first Friday of the school semester from 7-9 p.m. there will be a grand poetry slam in MC 137. Free food will be provided. The first prize winner will receive $100. The next competition is Friday, Feb. 3. Various talents are welcome. With an open door policy, no one should expect to be turned away. If you have a talent to share, SPEAK UP encourages you to stop by.

“This is just not based on poetry, if you have any talent, as far as singing, playing an instrument, whatever you do, the door is always open,” Howard said. “Speak up, what is your gift? What is your talent? Bring it to the center and we can use it. Just walk in, and if you have something to say SPEAK UP!”