Senior Emily Greatorex makes a point in her poem. Photos by Jessica Steeley
BY JESSICA STEELEY
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Student poets received snaps and cheers as they performed serious and resounding messages during the Third Annual Voices for Change Poetry Slam on Friday, Feb. 24.
Topics ranged from coping with mental illness to romance to LGBT issues. Many poems were political, all were incredibly personal.
“I was very happy with the turnout and I was super happy with how everyone reacted to the poems,” Voices for Change Co-Founder Olivia Maday said. “I think it is really a testament to how well everyone receives the voices of each individual student and how open our community is to understanding everybody’s individual voices.”
The night began with Maday and fellow Voices for Change Executives Sierra Aguilar and Addison Gale welcoming everyone and explaining all event proceeds and donations go to The Women’s Center of Southeastern Michigan.
A representative from the center followed the introduction and explained their mission to the crowd: promoting self-determination of women and families, as well as empowering women, and allowing communities to thrive by building confidence, strengthening human connection and creating positive change.
The poems kicked off with the first poet, Nathan Wilson, a Clarkston alumni and current University of Michigan student.
The night continued in a flurry of emotions, powerful messages, claps and snaps as 20 student poets performed their original pieces, with performers ranging from Clarkston seventh graders to college students.
Senior Jack Murphy had a particularly powerful piece, receiving a standing ovation as he finished his poem.
“We try to pick a variety of topics and subject matter and we really strive to choose powerful poems we think the crowd will respond to. Jack’s is a really great example of that, cause everyone just loved the message,” Maday said.
Though Murphy has attended all three poetry slams, this was his first year performing. His poem discussed issues he faces as a member of the LGBT community.
“I love doing these things,” Murphy said. “I make it a priority to come and watch everyone and I’m always thinking to myself ‘Man, I wish I could write as well as those people up there’. Then, I just started thinking ‘Well, why can’t I?’ I started writing and I got opinions of people and I entered it.”
Murphy added going to the poetry slam every year has helped him learn about his peers he sees everyday but doesn’t necessarily know on a personal level.
“You get to know what their struggles and what their beliefs are and I just think that’s a really great way to kind of get to know what’s going around you,” Murphy said.
Maday, a senior at the high school, co-founded Voices for Change with her older sister, Madeline, and though she will graduate this year, the program will be continued by Clarkston sophomores Addison Gale and Sierra Aguilar.