20-years-old and viciously poignant, Hamline University student and spoken word poet, Blythe Baird, spat poems with the virtuosity held only by someone who has lived the stories they are telling. This spoken word poet is the youngest to have competed at the National Poetry Slam and headlined the Memorial Union Student Organization’s (MUSO) monthly open mic poetry slam, Monday, Feb. 27 in MUB Theater II.
“I learned to be the funny girl cause when you’re the fat girl, you have to be,” Baird said.
Baird’s focus falls on eating disorders, rape-culture and feminism. Well known in the community of online poets, her works including “Pocket Sized Feminism” and “When The Fat Girl Gets Skinny,” recently went viral. Baird is now a full time student at Hamline University and recites her poetry at colleges across the country.
“Spoken word was more than just writing for me, it was a whole world of support. Writing became this method of social change. Writing has the capacity to reach people,” Baird said.
The event, sponsored and organized by MUSO, was oriented around Feminism Week. The organization hosts poetry evenings on the last Monday of each month. The event offered free coffee, donuts and the opportunity to share original spoken word poetry.
Student poets were given the floor to slam about just about anything, but social justice stood as the overall focus. Topics varied from heartbreak to abuse to insecurity and even drug use.
“I love to see my peers speaking so eloquently about such important issues. These things are hard to talk about and talking about it is important,” women’s studies and English major Felicia Nadel said after attending the event.
UNH’s women studies department sponsors the annual “Feminism Week,” with a series of events shedding light on women’s issues with a series of different events. The series runs from Feb. 24, beginning with the “Vagina Monologues” and ends March 7 with an OMSA #RealTalk seminar on the legalization of sex work.
“Rape culture is prevalent. Putting words to experience is extremely helpful to those who experience these things on a regular basis and don’t know if others are walking around in silence,” UNH alum and former women’s studies major Erin Fitzpatrick said.
The theater was dimly lit and full of donuts, yet full of power and passion as students, alumni and poets took the stage to articulate frustrations on topics more difficult to digest.
“I’m really into making people uncomfortable, I think that’s where you grow. Every time I’ve grown it has been because I’ve been uncomfortable,” Baird said. “I think it is important to sit with that discomfort and know that this is where growth comes from. It’s important to write about things that make you uncomfortable because spoken word is one of few vessels where people talk about these things.”