UHCL The Signal
The official student newspaper of the University of Houston-Clear Lake

Poets share their stories of Hurricane Harvey

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On Wednesday, Nov. 29, The Writing Center at the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL) held a Poetry and Open Mic event featuring poetry inspired by the events of Hurricane Harvey.

The poems at the event were focused on Hurricane Harvey so that artists could use poetry as a way to uplift the survivors and how the hurricane affected them personally.

Conor Bracken, assistant director of The Writing Center, used his experience as a poet and organizer to bring together the resources needed for the event with the assistance of Travis Webster, director of The Writing Center.

“We like to remind everybody The Writing Center is not solely an academic place, it’s also a space for communication and solidarity,” Bracken said.

The guest speakers at this event included local poets Luiz Vasquez, Adriana Babiak-Vasquez, Xach Blunt and Jeremy Eugene. All of these poets invited by Webster and Bracken, shared their unique poems with the attending students.

Poetry_Night_Crowd_Shot
Jeremy Eugene speaks to the crowd at the Poetry Night. Photo courtesy of Kelly Keefe, B.A. Office Assistant

Vasquez shared his poem “The Martian,” which he described as “finding a new beginning that continues who you are as a human being.” The poem follows a character who was trying to find a new home in a unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, much like Vasquez’ actual experience with Hurricane Harvey.

Adriana Babiak-Vasquez shared her poem “The Garden,” which focused on the importance of keeping good and happy memories close to one’s heart for when times get rough. Babiak-Vazquez said that she always enjoys interacting and sharing experiences with students when visiting UHCL.

Xach Blunt shared his poem “Demigod,” which was written from the perspective of someone questioning why everyone compliments him, when he does not see himself as worthy. Blunt hoped that by sharing his experiences with people, the audience would be able to connect with him and feel inspired to help themselves and see themselves as worth something.

The final guest speaker of the event was Jeremy Eugene, who shared with the audience his poem “Hair.” Eugene described the poem as reclaiming what the world wanted to take from him — even his own life.

All the poets agreed that they found poetry extremely cathartic and helpful through the hard times in their lives. They encouraged audience members to use their creativity as best as they could and share their words with others.

“The performance is what feels most cathartic,” Eugene said. “It feels great to connect with people who feel something from your work as well and see their reactions.”

Flyer for The Writing Center's poetry night. Photo courtesy of The Writing Center.
Flyer for The Writing Center’s poetry night. Photo courtesy of The Writing Center.

After the guest poets, there was an open mic for students to come forward and share their stories. Of the 20 attendees, six of them stepped up to the mic and spoke about recent social issues affecting their lives such as police brutality, racism, depression, politics and how they are  used as a tool of hatred.

This was the second annual Poetry and Open Mic Night to be held by The Writing Center. It was created as a way for students at the university to gather together and share their creativity in a welcoming and open environment. Webster and Bracken are hopeful that this event will continue to grow and become an annual event at the UHCL’s The Writing Center.

“This event is part of our mission to start conversations about on-campus writing, and propel forward our Writing Center so it can be a space for writing, community and student support for everyone here at UHCL,” Webster said.

For more information about The Writing Center or to schedule an appointment to learn more about expressing creativity, visit https://www.uhcl.edu/writing-center/ or https://www.uhcl.edu/writing-center/about/policies.

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