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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Activities & Organizations

Students express deep emotions through poetry at CoogSlam


CoogSlam is a poetry and spoken word organization on campus that hosts open-mic nights and poetry slams. | Courtesy of Kristen Sagun

CoogSlam is an organization on campus providing students with the opportunity to express themselves through poetry and spoken word at their events.

Open mic nights and poetry slams are hosted by CoogSlam. At these events, participants have the opportunity to share and vocalize what they wish in a smaller setting with peers.

“CoogSlam allows me to express myself by giving me a voice every other Monday at the Legacy Lounge,” said philosophy junior Aleia Edwards. “This allows me to open up my deepest thoughts and feelings to a very specific group of people who in turn resonate with the things I feel and may inspire them to open up.”

Open Mic Nights are hosted biweekly on Mondays in the Legacy Lounge located in the Student Center South. Workshop Wednesdays are at various times, usually located in Agnes Arnold.

CoogSlam is starting their second year as an active club organization on campus, ranked fourth in the country after their first year at UH.

“We started CoogSlam to harness a community of writers and artists, to build a platform for students voices encompassing all facets of art,” said political science senior and Co-Captain Jazzib Akhtar. “Our goals are to continue building the community, to expand the outreach of artists, help them monetize their work as well as start our own publication.”

Students can participate through social media if they can’t attend in-person events. CoogSlam encourages interested students to direct message their work for a chance to be featured on their Instagram. CoogSlam also accepts poems, poses, short stories, and visual artwork through their email to potentially be involved in CoogSlam’s first publication.

“We are currently working on dropping our first physical body of work which will feature prose, poems, visual artwork from our UH students,” Akhtar said. “We are currently accepting submissions until November.”

CoogSlam is open to all students, and does not require a background  or experience in poetry to participate. The mission of CoogSlam is to help build up members and be a resource for them.

“The beautiful thing about CoogSlam is that skill as a quantifiable concept is nonexistent,” Akhtar said. “There’s no skill that is required to join, it’s about building your confidence to come up on stage or even a willingness to just help out.”

CoogSlam can also be seen as a self care outlet for students to work on processing their feelings, and could be something more than participating at a club meeting. For Edwards, CoogSlam is a therapeutic experience.

“I would recommend CoogSlam because poetry is a form of therapy,” Edwards said. “Everyone needs therapy, it’s away to better understand your emotions and to feel less alone.”

In an Instagram post Edwards provided a personal testimony of how CoogSlam was able to help her feel a sense of community beyond what comes with living on campus.

“I lived on campus my first year,” Edwards said. “I didn’t know anyone and was dumped into an entirely new environment. It was stressful, but CoogSlam helped me become more integrated into a great community and made life a little bit more bearable.”

In the past, returning and more outgoing members of CoogSlam compiled resources to help less experienced members achieve more success within their roles at the organization. Edwards believes that to be successful at CoogSlam level of experience is not what is important, but your vision of what you want to accomplish.

“I’m head of marketing, and when I first started my predecessor left a doc explaining everything that needed to be done,” Edwards said. “At the very bottom (they put) that whatever I decide is best.”

Last year, CoogSlam participated in College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, which is the largest collegiate poetry event. UH won fourth place at CUPSI.

“We haven’t decided (if we are attending CUPSI this year) yet, we need funding first,” Edwards said. “We are hopeful though, we have a greatly supportive community.”

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