Mar 112009
Authors: Ryan Sheine

In an effort to promote youth literacy, world-renowned slam poet Sonya Renee recited some of her most personal and emotionally driven poems for students Wednesday night in the Lory Student Center Grey Rock Room.

The program, hosted by Rams Encourage Adolescent Literacy, aimed at encouraging the children of Turning Point, a family development center, to pursue reading and writing.

“Turning Point children love slam poetry,” said Holly Hershberger, a senior English education major and REAL coordinator. “They can relate to the personal experiences of the slam poets.”

The program organized a series of three slam poets, Alvin Lau, Rafael Casal and Renee, all reciting their slams to show support for REAL and the children of Turning Point.

Before each performance, REAL hosts a workshop at Turning Point, which attempts to get children to read beyond an academic dimension.

“Reading and writing can be more than just as a hobby or just for school; (students) can make a career out of it,” Hershberger said.

Renee tried to emphasize how a love for reading and writing can translate into a career.

The poet has traveled across the world, including the Netherlands, Canada, and Scotland, and is currently on tour reciting her slam poetry.

The topics of her poems range from her father and childhood to past relationships and women’s right to choose.

“I’m inspired by my life, other people’s lives and getting to analyze different experiences from my own background,” Renee said.

Renee acts out her words in lively mannerisms while moving across the room, inviting a strong reaction from the audience.

“I try to be honest,” Renee said. “Each show is always fun and exciting.”

She opened the floor to the audience members between poems to ask questions and offer personal interpretations, which she often uses to lead into her next poem.

“She was amazing,” said Amanda Poulson, a sophomore psychology and fine arts double major. “The crowd was responsive — she was responsive. It was all very dynamic.”

“Slam poetry always makes me feel better,” Poulson said. “Somebody else is describing experiences I could never put into words.”

Staff writer Ryan Sheine can be reached at

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