Poetry Jam Sparks Calvin Creativity

All the chairs and couches in the Fish House were turned towards the corner stage, where a smooth jazz band was playing. It was a time for Calvin students, along with two professional headliners, to go up to the mic and express themselves through poetry and song.

Last Thursday, the Multicultural Student Development Office (MSDO) hosted the fall Poetry Jam, where student performers reflected the theme — Spark — by sparking inspiration and feelings of community within the Calvin student body.

Whether it was a Maya Angelou work, Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me,” or a Calvin student original, voices were striking chords with the coffee-holding audience members. In general, it was a night for snaps, contemplative nods, open journals and Instagram pictures. Listeners relaxed on the couches with open laptops, talking quietly with friends after a long day of classes. Others crowded in the back after all the seats filled, or peeked over the booths in Johnny’s.

“I love Poetry Jam!” said sophomore Alicia Coultas. “I go every year.”

“I thought that Poetry Jam was a great, warm environment,” said sophomore performer Katherine Ryan, “Everyone is really accepting and encouraging.”

“It’s just an amazing experience being up there, being on stage, and being able to just impact so many different people that just show up to listen,” said junior Matt Schanck.

Performers went under the spotlight to read what was on their minds, whether it was a personal poem, or a song on the piano or guitar, or a piece that was influential in their lives.

“You’re kind of showing people your inner thoughts to people you’ve never met before. It’s really cool to just watch the performers- they’re very passionate about their poetry and what they’re saying. I loved being part of it,” said MSDO ambassador Taylor Cones.

People who weren’t scheduled to perform still got a chance as long as they signed up for open mic.

“I like how people weren’t afraid to get up there and go all out for what they wrote and believed in,” said first-year student and performer Kimo Cox.

Organizers were pleased with the event’s turnout and hope to host a similar show next semester. Those whose interest was ‘sparked’ by this event may want to return to the Fish House on December 2, when Calvin poets and writers will share their Dialogue submissions.