Students spark resistance through poetry

The Student Literary Advisory Board (SLAB) has been publishing an annual poetry chapbook since 2012, but this year the group is trying something different by tying their theme to MLK Week.Picture of exterior of Van Etten-Lacey House

“We wanted to focus this year’s theme around justice and the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech,” said Vice President of SLAB Kendra Aquino ’19. “We chose the title ‘Poetry for Resistance’ because we feel that it encapsulates the fight for freedom and equality, and is versatile enough to spark a wide variety of submissions,” Aquino said.

SLAB is inviting the Cornell and Mount Vernon communities to attend its event, the Poetry for Resistance Speaker Presentation Night, on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 5:30 p.m., in the Van Etten-Lacey House. The event will feature a poetry competition sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Life to demonstrate what poetry for resistance is all about.

Students who would like to participate in the competition must submit their poem to the Office of Intercultural Life via email, hand deliver, or postal mail by 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18 (contact: Tiyah Western, Cornell and Mount Vernon High School students are eligible to enter. Participants will read their submissions aloud at the event.

The first-place winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card and have their poem published in the “Poetry for Resistance” chapbook. The second-place winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card and also have their poem published in the “Poetry for Resistance” chapbook. After the poetry competition, there will be several guest speakers presenting on different forms of resistance, including Professor of Psychology William Dragon and Director of Intercultural Life Hemie Collier. The presentations are geared to spark inspiration for the chapbook. The event will be catered by Olive Garden and is open to Cornell faculty, staff, and students, as well as Mount Vernon community members.

“Participants can interpret resistance however they so choose, whether it be systemic, personal, emotional, or physical,” Aquino said. “We hope the individuals who attend our event reflect on their own moments of resistance, and also come to understand how people’s perspectives on resistance may differ.”

Cornellians motivated to write poetry for the chapbook just need to submit it to SLAB (contact: Olivia Long, by the deadline of midnight on Thursday, Feb. 7.

“There is a close-knit community of student creative writers and poets here at Cornell,” Aquino said. “I have become good friends with many of the other English and creative writing majors on campus, and you would be surprised how many poets we have right here on the Hilltop! I have also noticed that students from a wide range of majors are interested in poetry. For example, all of my introductory creative writing courses had students from STEM majors. SLAB’s annual chapbook gives students from any course of study the chance to be creative, write, and be heard.”

The finished “Poetry for Resistance” chapbook will be released on Thursday, Feb. 28, during the Block 6 Writers After Dark event in Zamora’s Market.