Students find purpose, community through poetry

For many Baylor students, poetry is a form of personal expression that helps with emotional healing and personal expression. Austin senior Jade Moffett discovered poetry during an emotionally challenging time, and that art has since become one of her greatest passions and outlet. Photo courtesy of Jade Moffett

Lindsey Reynolds | Reporter

Poetry: a nuisance to some and an outlet for others. Many students on campus use poetry to heal, to overcome and to be heard.

Poetry is a prominent element of the underground artist community on campus. Many of these artists write lyrics for musicians and excerpts for promotional videos, but some write for their own health.

Austin senior Jade Moffett said she believes poetry initiates personal discovery. During her freshman year, Moffett recalls having trouble handling her emotions in a healthy way. Prompted by her mother, Moffett began to transcribe her thoughts in the form of poetry.

“It got to the point where I was writing my thoughts on napkins, sticky notes and keeping them,” Moffett said. “It became therapy for me. I hated keeping a journal because I didn’t have anything to say. Now I have something to say.”

So began her poetic journey. In 2018, Moffett published her first collection of poetry, titled “Running Through Brick Walls.” The entries throughout the book promote feminine themes and bring prominence to realistic self-discovery as a woman, as a black woman and as a human in general.

“I wanted to focus on who I was before, when I was going through a lot and not handling things properly,” Moffett said. “It was very private to me.”

Moffett gained inspiration to write her book through an unlikely source: SZA’s song “20 Something.” The song describes the plight of a woman in her 20s who feels as if she’s contributed nothing to the world, and how she wanted to create something that was hers.

“I wanted to own something too,” Moffett said.

When asked about Baylor’s underground artistic community, Moffett expressed her fondness for the group of artists. She once hosted a small concert in her apartment, where she invited a few singers and musicians to share their sounds. Moffett also performed a spoken-word piece that gained her recognition.

“The art community at Baylor is fantastic,” Moffett said. “As a community, they’re so cool.”

For Aurora, Ill. junior Sierra Raheem, poetry quite literally became her voice when she was young. Born with a cleft palate that hindered her speech, Raheem often read the books her grandmother gave to her as a child. It was then that Raheem realized written words could carry just as much weight as the spoken word.

“I always enjoyed writing because it gave me a voice,” Raheem said. “I wanted to influence and encourage people.”

Raheem took a public speaking class in which she was responsible for presenting an effective argument. She decided to write a poem instead.

“I was able to persuade them through spoken word,” Raheem said. “After that I was like, ‘Wow! This is a medium that is so powerful.’ Words have power and they can influence people.”

One of Raheem’s poems has been selected to be featured in Baylor’s literary magazine “The Phoenix” during the Beall Poetry Festival in April.

There is an array of opportunities on and off campus for poets looking to share their work. The Beall Poetry Festival in April, hosted by the English department, brings many poets together in appreciation of this literary art form. Several local businesses like Common Grounds host open mic nights for artists to share their work. The Waco Poets Society hosts monthly events, and some organizations on campus hold open-mic nights during the semester for student to share their passion for poetry.