Afro-Latina artist Melania-Luisa Marte joined the Office of Multicultural Affairs on Wednesday to engage with students about poetry and spoken word.
Spoken word and poetry are forms of art that can help people express feelings associated with memories, both good and bad.
Bringing in artists like Marte, who are comfortable in their own skin and represent a diverse culture, is important for students, Multicultural Affairs director Melanie Johnson said.
Identifying as Afro-Latina, a black woman who’s also Latina, Marte said discussing international feminism and navigating the world as a first-generation American inspires her writing. Her work aims to expose her audiences to understanding racial intersections and she uses her background to help tackle topics such as patriarchal societies, capitalism, white supremacy and toxic masculinity.
The poetry slam event and workshop were a part of a larger interactive tour hosted by Marte and her colleague Angelica Maria titled Adios America.
Students gathered at the Palo Duro lounge that evening, lining up to record the intimate solo and collaborative poems by Marte and Maria about love, food and Hispanic culture.
The room had a table of sweet bread, which is pronounced ‘pan dulce’ in Spanish, and was flooded with the sound of Selena Quintanilla’s songs and other Latinx artists while a projector showcased pictures of Marte and Maria.
At noon, Marte hosted a poetry workshop in the University Center basement. The workshop served as a training for students to recite their spoken word and create free-verse writings and poems.
Marte discussed the three steps to spoken word, “Write your truth, say it loud and make your audience feel you,” in hopes to encourage students to attend the open mic that following evening.
During the workshop, attendees were told to write an emotion inside a piece of paper, crumple it up and place it in an orange bucket. Marte collected all of the papers and gave attendees someone else’s emotion, advising them to write a five to 10 line poem about how the person who initially wrote it was feeling.
Attendees performed their writings for each other. Marte motivated young writers to be ambitious, whether they are new to the game or have been writing for over a decade.
Psychology freshman Nia Wilson attended the workshop to improve her poetry. Marte helped Wilson polish the poem she recited that evening at the open mic.
Poets like Maya Angelou inspired Wilson to start writing, which has become one of her passions, she said. Modern poets like Marte reignite inspiration for Wilson to be more confident in her own writing.
Having a platform like poetry to express oneself is something that’s important for the advancement of minorities in media, Wilson said. People like Marte need a spotlight in society.