MU Women’s Center 23rd annual Women’s Poetry Night creates space for openness, vulnerability

MU Women’s Center 23rd annual Poetry Night offered a safe space for poets of all skill level.

The 23rd annual Women’s Poetry Night welcomed amateur and experienced poets from MU and the Columbia area in honor of Women’s History Month. The event aimed to provide women an outlet to express their work and a space to be vulnerable about personal experiences.

This was the case for graduate student Bini Sebastian.

“I never saw myself as a poet until about a year ago,” Sebastian said. “All of this is still very new to me. I am a visual artist, a lot of painting and drawing ever since I was younger. I think honestly it is pain and suffering that inspires me to write.”

Writing is a method of healing for Sebastian and helps her connect with an audience through feedback. After listening to poets of various ages and backgrounds, Sebastian said she noticed a theme of “surviving and thriving” throughout the night.

“We all have a little bit of a light within ourselves. When other people, our families, society, media, whatever, when people start speaking into that, it really screws things up. I hope they acknowledge that light within themselves. I hope they know they have the power to continue igniting that light,” Sebastian said.

Emily Tarby, assistant coordinator of this year’s Women’s Poetry Night, said that advertising through OrgSync and MU’s weekly newsletter contributed to the increase of attendance and participation of poets compared to past shows. Tarby also reached out to poetry organizations on campus in an effort to recruit them for the event.

“This is a space for women to share their experiences and their literary works,” Tarby said. “I think the most common theme was experiences with being a woman in today’s society.”

Poems centered around abuse, harassment, relationships, self-fulfillment and confidence. The goal of the women’s center was to create a space where performers felt safe, yet vulnerable.

“People have this respect for poets who are able to be so open with strangers,” Tarby said.

Lena Ajans, former executive assistant of the MU Confucius Institute, performed her original poem “If I Were A Tree.” Ajans said the poem elicits feelings of pain and suffering and encourages the listener to consider their connections.

“Everyone knows loss, everyone knows pain,” Ajans said. “I think the honesty behind the author’s words exemplify truth. And will hopefully instill in the audience that their feelings are valid. And that healing takes time.”

Edited by Ethan Brown | ebrown@themaneater.com

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