Joe Eldredge, a sophomore studying humanities, manages the weekly Poetry Workshop where students get together to learn about poetry, write, and perform their art. It is welcome to everyone, and all are given the opportunity to perform in the poetry slam.

Shonaka Phebe, a junior studying public health who has attended the workshop for two semesters, said, “The community is very open-minded and everyone is very respectful of everyone’s poems and feelings. We just want to encourage everyone to put their feelings out into the world and express themselves.”

The slam meeting started with a group poem encouraging everyone present to be honest and listen intently. There were a few scheduled readings of original and famous poems from the regular workshop attendees. The meeting ended with an open mic where anyone could perform.

Phebe performed a poem she wrote. In the poetry workshop, every meeting they put up a word of the day. The day she wrote this poem, the word was zero-sum, defined by Merriam-Webster as “relating to, or being a situation (such as a game or relationship) in which a gain for one side entails a corresponding loss for the other side.

Here is Phebe’s poem “Zero-Sum”:

“Loving you is like a zero-sum relationship. I give you all my love and attention and all you give me in return is…”

“These poets put a lot of effort into their poems and a lot of people did some stuff that was really scary for them,” Eldredge said. “I’m really proud of them, I loved it.”

All of the poets gave applause and hugs to each other after each performance. All subjects were open as long as it was respectful to everyone present. Topics ranged from self image, growing up, college, love, heartbreak, and Jesus Christ.

“Try out poetry, write out your emotions,” Eldredge said. “I use poetry to deal with a lot of both positive and negative emotions, and when I put it down and see what’s going on in my mind, it brings so much clarity.”