Amid white linen table cloths, fancy dinnerware and candlelight, slam poet Pages D. Matam addressed the crowd in the Bovee University Center Tuesday night with words of hope in a world of sexual aggression.
“The best way to take care of the world is to take care of yourself,” he said to the hushed crowd of students and faculty at Central Michigan University.
Matam, a self-professed bow tie enthusiast, gummy bear elitist and professional hugger, was the keynote performer at the first “Food for Thought” poetry night held by Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates, a crisis hotline organization on CMU’s campus.
The event was held to raise awareness of the group’s position on campus and to help spread its name among students and administrators.
Most of the poems were focused on sensitive topics such as sexual aggression, domestic violence and other triggering issues.
“When people talk about topics such as these, it’s usually serious and they’re nervous about it, because they’re not fun issues to talk about,” said Jackson senior Ellen Francey. “But this poetry adds more expression to the conversation, and I think it makes people think about it more personally, as opposed to just cold hard statistics.”
Francey heard about the event through a friend in SAPA and was excited to attend, she said.
Marie Parker, a freshman from Fowlerville, said she enjoyed how Matam presented on a wide variety of topics.
“They were difficult topics, sure, but it’s something that needs to be talked about,” Parker said. “It’s always interesting to hear someone else’s perspective on issues such as these, when they’re coming from their background and experience.”
From an administrative point of view, the event was a success and members of SAPA are eager to make it an annual program.
“For it being the first time we’ve ever held an event like this, to see such a turn out, and to see President (George) and Mrs. (Elizabeth) Ross here, and other administrators donating time and money to our program, it’s really amazing,” said Amanda Revenaugh, a senior from Burton, and the SAPA member who orchestrated the poetry slam. “It really goes to show that an idea, with enough determination and hard work, can be achieved.”
Revenaugh said she was inspired after seeing a video of Matam’s poem “Pinata” online, and decided an event like “Food for Thought” could be exactly what SAPA needed to get its name out to the community.
“I emailed Pages about it nearly four months ago, so this has been the result of several months of hard work and planning,” Revenaugh said. “With a lot of help from the Program Board, and the Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equality, we pulled it off and it was phenomenal.”