A Championed Voice Through Poetry

Poetry Corner Learning CommonsSince its inception on October 8, 2018, the Learning Commons Poetry Corner has been more than a monthly event where an instructor and students gather in Skyline College Library’s lounge area to read Chaucer, Keats, Kipling or the likes while sipping coffee or tea. Rather, it is a democratic, brave space where students express their ideas and voice their concerns about the political climate and environmental, racial or gender issues through the creative medium of poetry.

Each Poetry Corner event was tied to a theme and designed to elicit engaged participation from students and faculty, readers and listeners alike. Participating students and faculty read from contemporary poets as well as their own works.  The first Poetry Corner event held on October 8, 2018 celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month, hosted by English Adjunct Brandon Diaz and featured contemporary Latinx authors.

The second poetry reading event held on October 23, 2018 was hosted by English Professor and Coordinator Rob Williams and also featured contemporary LGBTQ+ poets. This event encouraged active discussions and students to share their personal experiences about the feeling of marginalization as gay or queer students on Skyline College campus.

The last event was held on November 13. 2018 with English Professor Lucia Lachmyr as the host and celebrated Native American Heritage Month. They began with students singing Native American welcome songs to ask the ancestors or God for pity and wisdom, as well as songs for blessings. The poems students read revolved around respecting and nurturing the land of their ancestors as well as reminding their readers that their culture is more than a footnote, a noted figure in a textbook or exoticized characters in Hollywood movies. As Raphael Clark-Faust, former Skyline College student and cofounder of the Intertribal Alliance Movement (I.A.M), declared in his original poem, “I am not your Jacob from Twilight I say …”, and then ended with “Honor the Earth, Honor yourself and Honor the people”.

The Poetry Corner pilot has been successful in fostering student engagement and creating an open forum for discussion and expression through the written art of poetry. This student driven momentum will continue into the next themed event on February 13, 2018, celebrating Black History Month.

Following February’s theme, please submit an original poem, art or both to Professor Rob Williams at williamsr@smccd.edu by February 1, 2019. Art submissions must be in a JPEG or PNG format. All submission will be considered for publication in Skyline College’s Literary Magazine – Talisman, coming out in May 2019. A few poems will be selected to be read and art work to be displayed in the Skyline College Library for February’s Learning Commons Poetry Corner.

If you have any questions, please contact Rob Williams at williamsr@smccd.edu, Pia Walawalkar at walawalkars@smccd.edu or Sherri Wyatt at wyatts@smccd.edu. See you at the next Learning Commons Poetry Corner event from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. on February 13, 2019!

Article and Photo by Sherri Wyatt

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