By Sarah Gianni ’18
It was a normal day for Phionna Claude ’18, reflecting on her freshman year self sitting at her desk in Meagher 207. She was preoccupied, however, pondering over an idea that she had held on to for some time. “I knew that I wanted to start a spoken word club on campus, but I didn’t know when or how I was going to do it,” she said.
Claude recalled thinking about why she not only loved writing poetry, but also the purpose behind performing her work through spoken word. “I thought to myself, I perform my work in this way because I believe in my words.”
The phrase “believe in my words,” would shortly become the spark that ignited her creation of the “Believers of Words” club (BOW), a group that harnesses spoken word, writing, and creativity.
Claude now sits as the president and co-founder of BOW, along with co-founder Ylaiza Perez ’16. BOW is also made up of Vice President Kayla Luciano ’18, Treasurer Dawyn Henriquez ’19, and Secretary Sara Jean-Francois ’19.
“BOW allows for a safe place to share, and is an outlet for those who want to take their writing one step further,” said Claude. “I started this club out of my own love for spoken word, because I know how much spoken word can be a breath of fresh air.”
While the idea of BOW was formulated in 2014, it formally became a club in the spring of 2016. The club began to grow their reputation on campus through various events, one of their most notable being the “Love your Melanin” slam poetry event in McPhail’s.
“We had poets share pieces that discussed the beauty, wonder, and struggle of being African American,” said Claude.
In addition, guest writer and performer Kai Davis shared her own words on the topic to close the show. Claude said she hopes “Love your Melanin” will become an annual event, with plans to host one again this spring.
In the fall of 2016, BOW held another event in McPhail’s, this time on the topic of love. “It was at the time that I felt everyone on campus knew that BOW had arrived,” said Claude. “I created the theme of ‘Fall in Love with Love’ to showcase love in every perspective,” she said.
Participants wrote on a range of topics, from their parents falling in love, to personal relationships, to heartbreak. “I feel like the performances brought people together as a family, through bearing their hearts on stage,” said Claude.
BOW welcomes anyone who may be interested in performance, writing, or simply observing. BOW meets every Monday night at 7 p.m. in the Unity Center.