Community members, poets perform at spoken word event


Avery Gunn

Poet and speaker Backpack Jeff performs at a spoken word event on Tuesday.

Payton Thompson, Reporter

Students, faculty and local poets performed their work at a Black History Month spoken word event on Tuesday.

Amberdawn Cheatham, director of the Office of Student Engagement, said organized the event for people to express themselves using poetry and to bring awareness to the Black community. 

“Spoken word is something where people can, like, really put their heart on their sleeve, and not be judged,” Cheatham said. “It’s accepting of everyone.”

Jeffrey Young, a poet and speaker from Washington who goes by the name “Backpack Jeff,” performed at the event. 

“I came here today to inspire,” Young said. “I came to uplift. I came to encourage. … I love that poetry is the freedom to express, but then you can also put hidden messages in there that people can take with them.”

Young began the event by reading four of his poems.

“I’ve spent so much time in solitary consignment, trapped inside of my own mind, waiting for the validation of another person,” Young said. “But since I have learned to be alone, and I can enjoy and love myself just as much without the validation of another person.”

Amaria Fields, a first-year graphic design student, said she spoke at the event to put herself out there.

“All of the speakers were saying, ‘seize an opportunity and not let it past you,’” Fields said. “I felt that this would be an opportunity to get out.”

Daniel Levy, a first-year humanities student, said he attended the event because of his interest in poetry. 

“The poets were all very inspiring and passionate about what they were saying, you could just feel it,” Levy said.