Poetry is an outlet where many writers share their thoughts, ideas and feelings without the feeling of being judged or isolated. Through Project: SPIT, a movement is beginning where this unique, open art form is growing into a great community.
“The mission of Project: SPIT is to create a spoken word,poetry community and awareness on the UCF campus that promotes and develops creative writing, allowing students to be in a safe environment that enables them to express and grow in the art form as well as promote diversity,” Shelby Birch, Project: SPIT president, said.
This club began in Fall 2013 and since has become a creative outlet for many of its members. The club aims to enhance creative writing skills and help develop performance skills which are essential for everyday life. Within their meetings, they hold several practice workshops for students to improve public speaking as well as have constructive communication of thoughts and ideas.
Recently, they put these workshops to use and competed in College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) held in Virginia Commonwealth University from March 25 – 28. It was the clubs first time attending this competition against 68 other collegiate poetry slam teams from U.S and Canada. They were the first Florida team to compete in a while among schools such as Harvard University, Yale University, Brown University and New York University.
“We had the poets, the poetry and the drive to compete, so we decided to seriously pursue it,” Birch said.
Before going to compete, the club picked 5 performers who practiced for three months, three times a week perfecting their poems. With the help of their coach, Blu Bailey, they perfected their movements, gestures, pitch and diction.
“Leading up to the competition we competed in as many poetry slams to gain funds and exposure, and featured at open mic shows around Orlando. Hustling is an understatement. Late nights and early mornings is an understatement. Sacrificing one’s social life is an understatement. But I wouldn’t take back this experience for anything in the world,” Birch said.
With the help of SGA funding the majority of the trip, 17 students went while five of those performed against other college poetry slam teams. One of the members representing UCF, Charles Hines, said this experience was unlike any other he had before and has inspired him as a writer and made him grow closer in his poetry community.
“The great thing about our team was that we are really, really diverse and came together as a team but also had these great individual poets,” Hines said.
Project SPIT’s hard work paid off and in their first year of competing, UCF placed 5th!
The team came back with inspiration to reach even higher next year and spread the love of poetry throughout Florida and beyond. They hold about two meetings each month and accept anyone who wants to create and share their love for art in whichever form it may come.
In the future, they want to see Project SPIT spread unto other campuses so that more college students can appreciate the art of spoken word poetry. They also intend to have a consistent and reputable team that will travel and compete in the annual CUPSI competition as well as nationally and internationally through other slam poetry competitions.