First-ever student poetry slam brings writers together

Maria+Cangro+24+%28pictured%29%2C+co-creator+of+the+poetry+slam+with+Madeline+Marriott+24%2C+read+a+piece+of+her+own+at+the+event.+%28Photo+by+Madeline+Marriott+24%29

Maria Cangro ’24 (pictured), co-creator of the poetry slam with Madeline Marriott ’24, read a piece of her own at the event. (Photo by Madeline Marriott ’24)

Creative writing, a beloved coffee shop and supportive peers. All three of these were found at Lafayette’s first-ever student poetry slam, which happened last Thursday, Oct. 20 at Mojo 516 Cafe. 

Madeline Marriott ‘24 and Maria Cangro ‘24, the two student organizers of the event, cooperated with the English department to plan the poetry slam.

“We have so many talented writers at the school … and Mojo is a fan favorite coffee shop, so I thought we could just combine two things we really liked and make a poetry slam,” Marriott said. 

The poetry slam was also a way to bring student writers together in a creative way. 

“I kind of knew that poetry is beloved on this campus … The plan was that we wanted to bring student writers together,” Cangro said. 

Cangro added that one of her motivations for wanting to hold a poetry slam was that she recognized a love for creative writing in non-English majors. 

“I have a lot of friends who are engineering majors, international affairs majors, [government and law] majors who are in Professor Fernandes’ creative writing intro [class], and they were writing a lot of poetry and even they gravitated towards poetry as a form of writing,” Cangro said. “I think generally for people who aren’t in a lot of writing classes on campus, they like writing poetry because they feel like it’s a good way to express themselves.”

The poetry slam received a turnout of around 75 people, with many participants staying for the entire event. Some of those who attended didn’t read their own poetry but came out to support their friends. Many who did read stayed to hear from the other writers in the room.

“It was really relaxed. One of the coolest parts for me was that there were people there that weren’t there for a class. There were also people that weren’t there to support somebody specific. They were there just because they wanted to hear poetry,” Marriott said. 

According to Cangro, the informal and intimate setting of the poetry slam allowed more people to feel comfortable sharing their own work.  

“It was very informal, but in a good way … We didn’t get a lot of people who signed up beforehand. I noticed that a lot of people who originally came in saying they were just going to hang out ended up wanting to read later on,” she said.

The poetry slam received overall positive feedback, with some students saying that they had been waiting for an event like this to happen on campus, according to Marriott. 

Marriott and Cangro both consider the poetry slam to have been a triumph for creative writing events on campus. 

“It went so much better than we could have expected and there were so many more people there than even we were hoping,” Marriott said.

Due to the poetry slam’s success, there are plans to hold another one during the spring semester. The idea of a “writer’s hub” where students can sit together to discuss writing projects also blossomed from the event’s success.

“People write poetry about things that are really personal to them, and sometimes traumatic, sometimes difficult to talk about,” Marriott said. “And I think it’s important for students to know that there is a place for them to share and express that type of thing.”

Disclaimer: Madeline Marriott ’24 is an Arts & Culture editor. She did not contribute writing or reporting to this story.