Award-winning slam poets wrap up MU's Pride Month

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 | 10:01 p.m. CDT
Naomi Daugherty performs spoken-word poetry at a Sister Outsider event presented by six MU organizations at Memorial Union on Wednesday. The event featured performances by indie poets and SPEAK community theater.

COLUMBIA — Polite whispers, crossed legs and quiet hands had no place in MU's Stotler Lounge on Wednesday. "This is not Sunday Mass," Dominique Christina said to the crowd before sharing her poetry.

She wanted hollers and palpable energy. She wanted snapping fingers and audible affirmation — she wanted a call and response.

Christina is one half of Sister Outsider Poetry, a spoken-word duo that performed at Wednesday night's Pride Month keynote event. The event, sponsored by Queer People of Color and six other MU organizations, was the final event of the month and featured Christina and her poetry partner, Denice Frohman.

The performance ranged from humorous to somber, as the two shared poetry about barriers to education, the marginalization of non-English speakers and the horrors of the civil rights movement.

"(Poets) open their ribs up and risk being vulnerable," Christina said.

As more and more people walked through the archway of rainbow balloons before the 7 p.m. start time, the organizers realized something.

They needed more chairs.

Sequoyah Moore, the organizer of the event, looked around at the rows of students, shaking her head slightly.

"This is a bigger turnout than I could have ever expected," she said.

Indie Poets and SPEAK Community Theater, two MU student organizations that focus on poetry and performance, performed at the event as well.

This was the second year that the Pride Month keynote event has featured spoken-word poetry. Last year, poet Andrea Gibson took the stage.

"It's a really accessible way to learn more about tough issues," said Struby Struble, MU LGBTQ Resource Center coordinator.

The event was the last stop of Sister Outsider Poetry's first tour and is the first time that two Women of the World Poetry Slam Champions have teamed up. Frohman holds the 2013 title, and Christina holds the title for 2012 and 2014.

Their poetry focuses on social and political issues, "particularly around race, gender and sexuality," according to the Sister Outsider Poetry website.

Although the topics were not light, the crowd shouted their approval and shared common silence during tough moments.

Just as Christina wanted.

Supervising editor is Elise Schmelzer.

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