By Sydney Fazio
Speak, a student-run poetry club at this university, met at the Maryland Food Collective in Stamp for their first open-mic night Dec. 6.
Students slowly trickled into the space and signed up to perform. One had a guitar to add music to his performance. Speak president and founder Ariela Sirota warmly encouraged everyone who entered to sign up and participate.
Speak was founded at the beginning of this semester. According to Sirota, the club serves as an all-inclusive organization dedicated to spoken word and poetry that is open to all students.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve never picked up a pencil or if you’ve been writing for years,” Sirota said. “There’s no levels to poetry; there’s no levels to art. We’re all here to write, and everyone’s a writer.”
The group is meant as a non-competitive art space for students to express themselves, especially on a large campus where instances of judgment-free, open expression can be hard to find, Sirota said.
The first open-mic event was saved for the end of the semester, as an effort to build momentum and awareness in preparation for the spring.
Seairah Henry, a junior neurobiology and physiology major, said that although she considers herself to be a shy person, Speak gave her an outlet to be creative and find her voice.
Henry performed at the event, but laughed with other members as she declared that she was a little nervous and didn’t want to go first.
“It’s not really intimidating, it’s really welcoming,” Henry said. “I think because of that vibe, it’s really easy for you to creatively express yourself in whichever way you choose.”
Natalie Chan, a sophomore cell biology and genetics major, said joining Speak gave her freedom to express herself with her hectic academic schedule.
“I love poetry,” Chan said. “I [don’t] really have time as a science major to incorporate poetry into my daily life. Speak allows me to do just that.”
Sirota said her plan for the organization is to get the group more established so open-mic nights can be held more frequently. The group meets every Wednesday in Symons Hall at 8 p.m., and students of any level of expertise are encouraged to listen, write and share their work.