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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Students draw from changing world in poetry slam

Thought Catalog
Fall is a magical time to read poetry outside beneath a canopy of color. The book featured in this photograph is Your Soul Is A River, by Nikita Gill.

campus editor/photographer

After almost a year of COVID-19 restrictions, student Jasmine Torres felt cramped by her belongings.

Because a less in-person world meant more online shopping, she found her room filling up with packages. She stepped around the boxes that were crowding her bedroom floor and realized she could no longer reach the mirror to look at herself. When she finally tripped over one of the boxes, she came to terms with her problem.

“I saw all the things I bought around my room that I don’t even look at,” she said. “I used shopping as a coping mechanism for my emotions.”

Using this premise, Torres wrote the poem “My Packages” — one of five that earned her first place at TCC’s Lift Every Voice poetry slam.

“The packages are piling up. Boxes lounging across the floor, bubble wrap spilling out after I cut them open,” Torres read to a virtual audience. “I used to get so excited to open them and see my new things. And now, I’m just thinking about the next package.”

Torres ended “My Packages” with a comment on the cyclical nature of coping.

“I don’t have time for these dramatic exaggerated philosophical thoughts,” she read. “I have a package waiting for me at the door.”

The work Torres performed illustrated a link between mundane activities of modern life and the darker feelings that can lurk behind them. “Salsa” examined an isolation and numbness felt during home cooking.

“Dinner Table” described a lonely narrator feeling trapped in their childhood bedroom while their family waits at the table.

The pandemic forced Torres to step back and find meaning in smaller things.

“Before, I was very preoccupied by things outside,” she said. “But now that we have more time to live with our thoughts, it’s stimulated me to write more poetry and go deeper.”

Second place winner Rabbia Molai also turned to the changing world for influence on her work. Among the poems she performed was “I Refuse” — a rebuke of voices that silence others.

“I refuse because if I don’t, then somewhere another little girl won’t either,” Molai read. “Because the hands that once held mine as I was learning to walk taught me that I’m better than what they say.”

Molai drew from her admiration of the Black Lives Matter movement and the overall force of change.

“I think it’s great to be part of a generation that’s trying to break social norms,” she said.
In an unnamed poem, third place winner Stephanie Booker mourned the loss of a loved one.

“Although our bodies lie in different realms, your soul and your spirit will forever remain in the deepest part of my heart,” she read.

Fourth place winner Alexandria Manzo performed an unnamed poem about self-discovery.
“I dig into myself like an excavation site, finding fossils like gold, as if dinosaur bones can reveal a future that died in the past,” she read.

Although the poetry slam was delivered virtually, NE English instructor and poetry club advisor Geoffrey Saari, who moderated the event, believes students had as much to gain by sharing their work with an online audience as they would an in-person one.

“It’s hard for these students to get up there and bare their souls,” he said.

“I think it does help them advance themselves and feel more confident about interacting with other people and sharing their feelings and thoughts.”

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