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Slam poet’s sharp and witty rhymes resonate with audience

Jessica Moes, A&E Editor
March 17, 2014 • 1,537 views

On March 8, Lauren Zuniga, an internationally-recognized slam poet and teaching artist, performed a selection of her spoken-word poetry to a small group of students in the Lion’s Pause.  The event was sponsored by the Student Activities Committee (SAC).

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Zuniga is the voice of the Oklahoma City Community College’s “Now is Power” campaign, has served as Activist-in-Residence for the University of Oklahoma and was voted “Best Local Author” by the Oklahoma Gazette. She is the author of two poetry collections, “The Nickel Tour” and “The Smell of Good Mud.”

Zuniga often uses her poetry for social activism, and her spoken-word pieces tend to echo personal experiences and hardships. Her life story manifested itself in some of the poetry that she presented on campus as well, including intimate details regarding her family and her sexuality.

“The show really centered around her life story,” said Maddy Gamble ’15, a member of SAC. “It made sense, because poetry is founded and inspired by aspects of one’s life. Zuniga talked about being married to an African-American man with whom she had two children. Eventually, they ended up getting a divorce, and I think it was mainly because she realized she was gay. It was because of her very interesting life that she was able to address issues that often get brushed under the rug at St. Olaf.”

These topics, which included drugs, sex, homosexuality, race, gender roles, identity, unfair legislation and abortion, enabled Zuniga’s poetry to really resonate with the audience.

“I’m normally not a huge fan of poetry, but her passion and creativity was very inspiring and infectious,” Gamble said. “But that’s why SAC decided to bring a slam poet to campus: She provides an alternative form of entertainment that St. Olaf students are not exposed to frequently.”

SAC’s next sponsored event for students is the March 16 St. Patty’s Day Scavenger Hunt. More information is available on the group’s Facebook page.

moes@stolaf.edu

 Photo Credit: HANNAH RECTOR/MANITOU MESSENGER
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