Arcadia continues to surprise me with its ability to facilitate and create such amazing events in a virtual setting to keep our community engaged and educated.
This time, the Arcadia writing community was summoned. On March 26, the Arcadia Writing Center, Sigma Tau Delta (English Honor Society), Quiddity Literary Magazine, and The Writer’s Bloc put on a collaborative event called the “Spring Sappho Slam” to celebrate World Poetry Day and the upcoming National Poetry Month in April. As the secretary of the Writer’s Bloc, my board and I had the opportunity to come up with some cool writing activities to play with our participants, while other groups offered activities, prompts, and having a conversation about the history of poetry and the importance of creative expression.
As secretary, it was my job to communicate and advertise the event, posting to our social media (@the_writers_bloc_au, go follow us!). I also got to take over the main Arcadia instagram for the evening to document the events of Sappho as well! You’re probably wondering what even is a “Sappho” or a “Slam.” Sappho was a Greek poet very well known for her lyrical poetry that sometimes was accompanied with a lyre. Slam or slam poetry is a type of poetry that is meant to be lyrical, expressive, and performed, so, of course, we had to fuse the two together to pack the event with the punch it deserved.
We had about 20 students join the Zoom call and Dan Schall, English professor and director of the Arcadia Writing Center, joined us for such a fun night! Sigma Tau Delta started out with an introduction about the history of poetry, its use for expression and de-stressing, and how we can appreciate poetry and writing creatively in our Arcadia community. Don’t knock it until you try it! After Sigma Tau, the Writing Center provided students about 20 minutes to complete 6 different writing prompts, one of which was “Write a poem including this line: We fell like flowers.” Afterward, volunteers shared some of them.
Following the Writing Center, Quiddity showed our participants a two-page document that was filled with their members’ favorite poets and poems, and read some of them to us. I shared that the poet who inspires me the most is the late Maya Angelou, and my favorite poem by her is “Still I Rise,” which was widely referenced in the BLM protests. Professor Schall chimed in as well and read to us his favorite poem by the late John Ashbery, a very famous piece called “The Instruction Manual.” Through Sappho, everyone got to connect over books and collections they’ve read, but also left with some new recommendations to check out as well!
The Writer’s Bloc was fortunate enough to close out the event. I got to run two awesome activities: the first was creating a new sentence based on an original by adding a similar or different noun or pronoun. For instance, one of our examples was “The weather is beautiful,” someone proceeded to share, “The elements are majestic,” and so forth! Our final activity involved creating blackout poetry, which is taking a piece of writing and blacking it out with a sharpie or in our case, highlighting in black on a google doc and leaving words blank to construct a poem of your own.
I had such a great time running these activities, and spending my Friday night nerding out about poetry with other students and faculty with that shared passion. We hope to make our Spring Sappho Slam an annual event, so I hope to see some of you there next year in person!