On Monday, Nov. 20 around 7 p.m. in the Cougar's Den, music filled the area. Students eating outside of the lounge immediately looked over and wondered what event would take place. That night, the Poetry Club hosted its Bars For Blessings event, which was an open mic event where they performed spoken word poetry or music and raised money to create winter care packages for the homeless.
The lounge soon filled up with student performers and supporting friends as they poured their hearts out on stage. This night was not limited to poetry as there were students who sang or rapped.
"I loved that night, " said Sarah Hassan, senior psychology major. "I attended for my friend Rifa Shariff, who performed her poetry. It was emotional and everyone performing either told a story or was really passionate about social issues. Although I like to read and listen to poetry, I don't personally write poetry myself."
All performers came from different backgrounds and all had something personal to relay. Whether it was their own style of poetry, rapping, dramatic reading, or singing, their emotions reached the audience. Topics such as identity, life story, personal experiences, accepting reality, and religion were presented and no student kept a filter on what they had to say.
Not only were there current Kean students who attended the event, but Kean alumni showed up to support their friends and the Poetry Club. To enter, students had to donate to Care for the Homeless of NYC. All monetary donations collected will contribute to the creation of winter care packages at the hands of their members. Inside the packages will be items such as hats, gloves, vaseline, scarfs, etc.
"I was extremely nervous but excited at the same time. It was my first hosted event as the president of our club," said Tierra Hooker, president of the Poetry Club and junior biology major. "I was honored [to have this event happen.] This event has been in the planning since mid-summer. Giving back to the community has been something I have always been eager to do and passionate about. When I became president, I knew that I wanted to do more for the club; open opportunities, make a difference, and highlight that as creatives we can give back using our voices."
The Poetry Club would love to host this event each semester in different forms.
"There are so many ways to give back, so many organizations and areas that need that component. Having a non-profit event will allow members to feel purposeful in doing what they love for great causes," Hooker added.
Students such as Eric Shandroff, senior communications major, and alumni Shawn Crysis, psychology major, have gone far in their spoken word/poetry performances. A lot of students were able to express themselves on social media platforms such as YouTube or SoundCloud and expand on their artistic career.
Although the Poetry Club typically hosts open mics, during meetings they have workshops to enhance and embrace their creativity. They were recently invited to do workshops in a few middle schools which they are greatly looking forward to. On the other hand, they gather together for off-campus trips to open mics or events.
In the middle of the event, there was a short intermission where they held a picture auction. The pictures were provided by the Point And Shoot Club at Kean University and the highest bidder would win the photo. The money would be added to the monetary donations that would go to Care for the Homeless of NYC.
Because of this event, so many students were touched and inspired to express themselves.
"I felt confident and excited to put out a project that will benefit not only the Kean Community but the outside community as well," said Chidinma Opara, vice president of the Poetry Club and senior psychology major. "This event means a great deal for me knowing that it's one of the first big events that I’ve ever done. We plan to host events like this two to three times a semester so people can have a chance to come out and express themselves in the their best way possible."
Check out the Poetry Club to see more opportunities to have open mic events and perform a poetry piece.