“Read All About It” Slam Poetry Addressing Mental Health

Erin Spicer, Staff Writer |

“Read All About It” was a student-organized event that focused on promoting mental health and using forms of self-expression such as slam poetry as a positive emotional outlet. The gathering began with a brief address from one of the licensed counselors from the Counseling Center on campus. He discussed about how important it is to talk and use our voices to communicate our experiences with one another. He communicated that every person experiences times of crisis, and the best thing we can do for ourselves is to talk about the issues we are dealing with. He also pointed out some new features that the Counseling Center is offering students this year. There are now walk-in hours, where students can show up without an appointment and are scheduled based on a first-come first-serve basis. The hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Another new development is that there is no longer a limit for the number of counseling sessions a student can receive. Previously, a student was allowed three counseling sessions at the Counseling Center before they were asked to pay a fee. 

The leader of the performers at “Read All About It” made a point to say that she held this event to create a space where students could express their voices and talk about issues that have impacted their lives. She also encouraged everyone present to use their voices because it is the most powerful tool we have. She went on to explain, when society tries to silence us because we want to talk about experiences that make most people uncomfortable— such as abuse, discrimination, or assault—that is when it is most crucial that we speak up. All of the performers made a point to reiterate that no one has the power to silence us, and to use our voices is a personal decision that can help bring us closer together and help heal ourselves. 

 The content of the poems performed were profoundly powerful and inspiring. Each performer went on stage and revealed an extremely vulnerable part of themselves; most of them had never discussed the experience they were describing before and expressed how their experiences impacted them emotionally and physically. They talked about topics such as eating disorders, the pressure of being a college student, family issues, frustration of identity, and prejudice. Through discussing their personal struggles with these issues, the performers used their poems to encourage the audience to find their strength in these experiences and remember that they are here, and they survived. Our experiences shape our character, but they do not define us. Several performers also made a point to state at the end of their poems that they are not victims of anything, they are survivors.

The session ended with a reminder that we all have a voice and we all have something to say. One of the performers asked to look around us and think about the fact that people in that room probably shared experiences with the performers. If we hadn’t come to the event, would we have known that there were other people on campus who felt the same way we did? The point of this question is to distinguish that the only way that issues that plague our society and cause extreme anxiety and depression, such as racism, abuse, and fear of failure, is to start a dialogue and look at how society is viewing these issues.  

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