By Kelsey Nevius
We’ve had a lot of talented and insightful speakers come to campus, and this semester has been no exception to that rule. Being an English major, I feel like I’ve had the privilege and opportunity to see a lot of different writers and poets as special guest speakers in my classes as well as professionals who come to UF to speak to the masses. I’m always excited when this happens, because it opens new doors to different writing styles I’ve never experienced and I always learn a lot about the speaker personally and what they do in their careers.
Last week, Wilson Okello came to both the University and my English class. At first, all I knew about him or what he was going to talk about was poetry. And yes, while he is a poet, I got so much more out of his visit to our class than just a better understanding of poetry. He, like many other speakers who visit UF, took the time to get to know us and our backgrounds in writing. Instead of solely focusing on what he does as a poet and as an instructor, he helped us refine our meaning and view of poetry. I believe that while doing this, those who disliked poetry found at least an appreciation and meaning for its existence and those who liked it gained a deeper understanding of what poetry is used for in our society.
While defining our views on poetry and its use, he also exposed us to new styles of poetry: specifically the use of spoken word poetry. I first came across this unique use of words last year when speaker and poet Micah Bournes came to another of my English classes. I also found at that point in time that this use of poetry was both extremely interesting and hard to master. When Okello brought up the art form, and even had some of us from the class try it out (I was one of the lucky individuals to do so), I found it funny that spoken word poetry was first
introduced to me through a speaker, and is now being continued through another speaker. Luckily, the demonstrations weren’t all from the class, and Okello himself performed one of his original spoken word poems. I have an even greater love of the art form today because of it. If you have never seen anyone perform spoken word poetry, it is something I highly recommend.
When a speaker of any sort comes to the University, you should go. New experiences are always around the corner, and these speakers have such a wealth of information to share. I was first introduced to one of my now-favorite ways to see and hear poetry because I took the time to listen to one of these speakers. And the thing is, without going to Bournes’ presentation in my class, I would never have had the appreciation and knowledge of spoken word poetry that I had when I experienced Okello’s presentation. To me, it’s like a chain reaction. These speakers gave me something that is now precious to me, so I want to pass that knowledge and love of spoken word poetry on.
And all of you who don’t have an interest in English or poetry like I do, don’t worry. We have all different kinds of speakers coming to UF who will talk about a multitude of different things. Just wait for the topic you’re interested in, and go see what it’s all about. Not only will you probably enjoy it, but you’ll learn a new thing or to, too. It’s college, after all — don’t be afraid to learn and do more.