St. Olaf’s Cultural Union for Black Expression (CUBE) hosted a poetry night in the Pause called “In My Own Words…” on Nov. 21. The event allowed students and staff to express their emotions through poems, songs or any other form of artistic performance. Students from a variety of backgrounds took to the stage, and Vice President for Student Life Hassel Morrison also shared some poems. Many people came to speak, many came to listen and all came to freely experience a multitude of emotions.
The venue was well decorated, featuring lots of soft lighting, a few rows of chairs and tables standing in back. The ambiance was perfect, although the stage lighting was not ideal.
CUBE is a place of community. It’s a place of culture. It’s a place of people. It’s a place of fun. It’s a place of growth.”
-Mahmoud Ahmed ’20
CUBE provided pizza at intermission and cake after the show ended. At intermission, students talked to those that had just performed, and friends boosted those who prepared to share next. The event’s uplifting intermission was a great opportunity to allow students a break to process all of the emotions that had been expressed up to that point.
Students shared poems centered around a wide variety of emotions. Some pieces left the audience silently crying, others left them wiping away tears of joy. Some students discussed themes applicable to any college student’s life, others discussed more personal issues, or issues specific to students of color. Even when hearing pieces students could not directly empathize with, students of all backgrounds were ready to listen and reflect.
Every single poem and song impacted the audience. All were true expressions of emotion, and therefore are out of the realm of any critique. Emmanuel Bioh ’22 performed a particularly memorable piece. He bared his soul through singing and delivering spoken word poetry. Bioh began by singing about feeling undesirable and wrong for loving someone he was not supposed to. The next piece he shared began with a laugh as he introduced his friend “Ani,” full name “Anxiety.” Bioh received cheers and claps as he sang about symptoms of anxiety the audience related to. Bioh sang and varied his tone to express humor, fear, anger, worry, excitement, sorrow and despair. The audience went through life’s lowest moments with Bioh and showed strength in sharing his battle to overcome them.
It was truly an honor to be able to spend a night hearing from students and staff and to freely feel all of the emotions they brought forth. If you missed out on the event but would like another chance to experience parts of it, head to the Manitou Messenger website to watch video-coverage of “In My Own Words…”