Poetry event celebrates women, female empowerment



By Meg Kraft and By Meg Kraft

The University’s Women’s Center held their fourth annual Women In Poetry event, “The World Split Open,” at Grounds for Thought Wednesday night in honor of National Poetry Month.

Finger snapping and hands clapping buzzed throughout the coffee shop as a variety of poets came together for an open mic night.

Guest speakers Larissa Szporluk and Jean Geist, on-campus organization SPEAK [Spoken Performance for Empowerment, Action and Knowledge] and members of Uppity Women’s Poetry Workshop all performed original pieces.

Mary Krueger, director of the Women’s Center, said the event was a chance for female poets to express themselves.

“It was a wonderful, complex evening thanks to all the readers,” she said.

Krueger said the annual event features a variety of attendees.

“The readers and audience are very diverse. We have ethnicity and age diversity, [the audience] is a mix of college students and members of the community,” she said.

Geist read original poems about holiday clichés and a divorced taxi driver from Panama.

Geist said she is passionate about performing poetry and happily accepted the University’s invitation to the event.

“I love poetry, I have spoken before and I go to a lot of Women’s Center events. I don’t know how I fell into it, but I was delighted to speak for a third time,” she said.

After guest poets spoke, members of the on-campus organization SPEAK performed poems they wrote from the prompt “Why do I write?”

Katerina Virostko, a founder of SPEAK, answered, “I write because too many women have been silenced.”

Virostko said SPEAK was founded two years ago after realizing the University didn’t have a slam poetry group.

“We felt there needed to be a space that students could get in touch with social justice values and personal issues,” she said.

The founder of SPEAK, Breshea Anglen, said this was SPEAK’s first time performing off-campus and working with the Women’s Center.

Anglen said the organization was excited to perform and could easily connect with the event theme.

“A lot of us write about women’s issues and personal things that involve our livelihood and womanhood,” she said.

After student performances ended, two members of Uppity Women’s Poetry Workshop read pieces based on gender equality and hope.

Sharon Barnes, a member of People Called Women [Ohio’s only feminist bookstore] has been a part of Uppity Women Poetry Workshop for ten years.

She performed original works that discussed gender expression and women’s empowerment.

“Poetry gives women a voice. It gives women a place to take their voice seriously and have their voice be taken seriously,” Barnes said.