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Students explore the power of the spoken word

Kevin Redline (left) and Kessiah-Ali Powell-Keyton (right) engaged in a poetry reading, Chase Hall, New Haven, Connecticut. Feb. 15, 2018. (August Pelliccio).

August PelliccioNews Writer

Students sat and listened to poetry written for the values of social justice and equality before sharing their personal ties to the art with Kevin Redline, Chase Hall resident advisor.

Redline lead a few students in conversation after the first of many short poems were shared on the Chase Hall common room’s television on Feb. 15. During that time, it was revealed that although several students who attended over the course of the night had an interest in poetry, one student actually had an interesting family connection.

“I’m related to John Greenleaf Whittier,” said freshman Jake Trautner.

The famous 19th century poet can be traced several generations up his family tree, according to Trautner.

Psychology major Kessiah-Ali Powell-Keyton said she enjoys writing poetry as a hobby. Among other forms of art she said she dabbles in, Powell-Keyton would like to incorporate poetry into her future profession.

“I want to be a childhood psychologist,” said Powell-Keyton.

She said poetry is a great way to express emotion and she will encourage the art form with future patients. For now, Powell-Keyton said she will continue to write in her free time.

She and the other students shared the night of poetry with pizza, soda and Redline, their host.

Redline coordinated the event as part of his program as resident advisor; he explained that each RA is encouraged to hold at least three events during a semester. One of Redline’s events must be centered on health professionals, per his living and learning community specification, but this was one of the educational events.

Redline himself is part of the Bookmarks English Club and said there is currently no organization focused on poetry on campus. For that reason, he wanted to create an environment where students can share some of their favorite work available online.

“A lot of people now get their poetry from Facebook,” said Redline, “or Youtube.”

All of the works shared on Feb. 16 were videos of the readings themselves, or videos created to visualize each poem. Two poems were from Youtube channel Prince Ea and many were from Button Poetry. (was the event on Feb. 15 or 16? you said both dates in this story. -ac)

One Button Poetry video, “To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Daughter,” read by Jesse Parent, elicited quite a reaction. Students laughed and smiled at this reading, and it even provoked a small applause at its close.

Another poem shared, “When Love Arrives,” was spoken by a team: Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye.

“A lot of spoken word can be broken up between two people,” said Redline. “It’s a lot more powerful with the different perspectives.”

Redline said this is common practice for spoken word poetry and that Kay and Kaye are not related outside of their spoken word partnership.

Students came and went during the event. Redline invited each new face he saw into the community area to share with other students their favorite poems. The room was not full, which, according to Redline, was because of the event’s postponement from the week prior. Still, students in the room smiled and laughed, engaged and shared their love of poetry.

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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