Poetry clubs are among the few student groups that can operate with more passion in 2020. The themes of isolation in quarantine and Black Lives Matter have inspired many to pick up their pens and start writing. Members of poetry organization The Vocal Box have used this time to refine their craft.
Founded last year by Aaliyah Daniels ’23 and Michelle Lin ’23, The Vocal Box would normally aim to get a team of poets to the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI), an annual poetry slam hosted by the Association of College Unions International.
In order to make it to CUPSI, the group must partner with the Department of English and collect 20 poems by students. Daniels is working to get the support of the Department. However, because of the ongoing pandemic and the changing situation on campus, they have yet to receive confirmation. As a result, they’ve had to slightly reframe the group’s objective.
Instead, The Vocal Box is focusing its efforts on addressing the Black Lives Matter movement in addition to the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Black, Indigenous and People of Color and low-income communities.
“We’re focusing on the political aspect of poetry and teaching people some things about how spoken-word artists are political and how we challenge social justice through our art,” Daniels wrote in an email to the Collegian.
The Vocal Box strives to showcase how people have processed the misfortunes of the pandemic through spoken word, according to Daniels.
The group is moving forward with two panels this month on misogynoir — discrimination against Black women. According to Daniels, future panels will cover an array of topics, focusing on other identities as well. The group hopes it will generate discussions concerning inclusivity and social justice.
The Vocal Box will also host writing sessions to construct poems about topics such as inequity. The readings of these poems will most likely be posted to The Vocal Box Instagram @thevocalbox in lieu of the group’s usual in-person poetry readings in Peirce Pub.
“We are doing this because there is a history of events affecting marginalized identities and an incorrect retelling of these events,” Daniels said.
In addition to their upcoming panels, The Vocal Box holds meetings every Friday at 8 p.m, and information about their Say Our Name series will be announced soon.