Three years ago in Benin, West Africa, Doxa J. Zannou was introduced to the art of spoken word by Passion for Christ Movement (P4CM). P4CM is responsible for RHETORIC, the world’s largest Christian spoken word conference. Zannou became familiar with P4CM’s online videos, where she watched poets speak the Word of God in a revitalizing way. Though Zannou had written poetry before, she had never written poetry specifically meant to be performed. So, inspired by the videos she saw online, Zannou challenged herself to write poems in this specific art form. She performed her first spoken word at an Eastern coffeehouse in the spring of 2015.
The spoken word artists Zannou connected with through P4CM sparked a passion for the art form within her. She dreamed of joining a spoken word club when she began college, praying back home in Benin that she would find a community of fellow spoken word poets. Upon her arrival at Eastern, Zannou realized no such club existed. There were various clubs to exercise her on-the-page writing abilities, but nothing yet to fulfill her desire for spoken word. At Eastern, Zannou continued praying for a spoken word community, and eventually she felt God asking her to start such a club herself. But the thought of starting a club from scratch was discouraging, and Zannou took no action. Zannou comments, “But God was persistently faithful, so He inspired our current adviser, Miss Frann Mawusi, to mention the same idea to me.” Hence, with the encouragement of Miss Mawusi, Zannou shared her vision with two fellow spoken word artists, Florette (Flo) Lewis and Madeline (MJ) Smith, who readily agreed to start this ministry with her. That is how Eastern’s first spoken word club was born in the fall of 2016: AUDACITY.
AUDACITY meets once a week to share their passion for spoken word. Though meeting times and room locations vary each semester, this spring AUDACITY meets on Tuesdays from 7:30-8:45 p.m. in HHC 203. Each club meeting begins with prayer and a devotional, and then the floor is opened for discussion. Lewis notes that it is important that “each member makes sure to be respectful towards thoughts and beliefs that may be different from his or her own.” Following the discussion is a segment for announcements and planning events. The meetings conclude with the delivery of a writing prompt. During the week members are invited to write a spoken word from the prompt, and they have the opportunity to share their pieces at the next meeting. Each meeting alternates between presenting prompts and sharing pieces.
AUDACITY is always welcoming new members. Lewis comments, “Anyone who loves writing, poetry, spoken word or who simply wants to learn how to write poetically is welcome to join.”
When asked why they believe the club is important, Zannou and Lewis state: “The most significant feature of this club is the fact that we are first and foremost a ministry God has called forth. We believe God has gifted us so we can pour out this gift, as a measure of His grace, into the lives of our brothers and sisters in and outside of the Church. We also believe that this club is important because it gives individuals the opportunity to come as they are and share what is on their mind without fearing negative repercussions. Nowadays, more and more people are unable to find love and support, but we are firmly dedicated to confidentiality, so as to develop a community where people can thrive, express themselves and heal through writing.”