“The Fight Never Ends”

Janie Feldmann '15 and Emily Fineberg '15

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Gregory Boles ’16 speaks out at the tenth annual Diversity Monologues Contest, hosted by the Office of Diversity Initiatives on Friday, November 30.

Alumni and current student poets came together to speak out on topics as varied as body image and religion in the tenth annual Diversity Monologues Contest.

The event on Friday, Nov. 30 in the Rector Atrium part of the Voices of the People Initiative, a program run by Office of Diversity Initiatives to help promote marginalized students.

“[This] celebrates students’ voices which have too often been silenced and marginalized,” explained Alex North ’13 and Sophie Hearne ’14, diversity assistants in the Office of Diversity Initiatives in their introduction to the event.

The Office of Diversity Initiatives, to celebrate the monologue’s tenth anniversary, chose to make the central piece of the event alumni performers. “Paula Lima-Jones, [Director of] the Office of Diversity Initiatives [invited me] several months ago,” recalled alumna performer Yazmin Monet Watkins ’09. “I was excited and honored to have been asked tocome back and perform.”

After a brief introduction from North and Hearne, Flosha Tejada ’11, who had performed in previous contests while a Dickinson student, took the stage to serve as the event’s MC. She, Monet Watkins and other alumni members of Silent Poets, a campus poetry group, began the event with the group’s decree, The Silent Poet’s Proclamation.

“I was extremely joyful to know that the Silent Poets would be special guests for the night,” said Tejada. “Back in my Dickinson days I served as one of the Diversity Assistants who helped to organize the [contest], so it was an honor to come back as the host of the show and as a member of the Silent Poets.”

Monet Watkins read a poem from her recently published book, “Love Without Limits: The Bi-Laws of Love.” She said that the book and her poetry in general began at Dickinson.

“I started performing spoken word poetry at Dickinson,” she explained. “The Silent Poets really brought me out of my shell and encouraged and taught me just how powerful our words and our stories really are….Dickinson helped provide the foundation and the courage to share my story with the world.”

Other performing alumni included Rich Robinson ’08, Tynesha Wright ’08, Ashley Peel ’11, Tiffany Mane ’10 and Tiffany Hwang ’11.

Following a short intermission featuring a song performed by Michael Cook ’13, students from the newly formed spoken-word poetry group Exiled took the stage to perform their original works.

“We’re still fighting for the same things; the fight never ends,” stated Tejada in her closing remarks, pointing out similar themes in the works performed by the Silent Poets and Exiled members.

“Exiled was phenomenal! They spoke from the heart about the issues that were close to them in such meaningful ways,” said Monet Watkins. “I absolutely loved their performances and am looking forward to staying in touch with them to hear of all the ways in which they will continue to change the campus and the community with their powerful words.”

Tejada agreed in her assessment of Exiled’s work on campus.

“I was blown away by the talented members of this group,” she explained. “I was beyond moved by their craft of words, rhythm and performance, and proud to see such a talented team continue to maintain an active space for poetry on campus.” Lima-Jones estimated that over 100 people were in attendance.

“It was great to see folks sitting even in the Rector glass stairwell trying to get a glimpse of the performers,” she said. “We were pleasantly surprised by the large turnout; it was certainly the largest turnout in the history of the Diversity Monologue Contest.”

The performances were well-received by audience members, estimated at about a hundred students and members of the Dickinson college staff.

“I was amazed at how open everyone was with sharing their experiences,” said Jessica Poteet ’15, a member of the audience. “It was inspiring to hear so many stories, and it made me realize how diverse this campus is. Everyone has had so many different experiences, and these are very important to share.”

Event organizers were also pleased with the event’s turnout. “It was such a powerful display of the talent, creativity, power and passion of Dickinson students and the Dickinson community,” said Lima-Jones. “We are confident that the best years…are ahead of us; Friday evening’s performance was simply a continuation of a powerful legacy and tradition.”