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Slam poetry performed on campus to promote student voting

Well-known slam poet Sierra DeMulder visited Concordia not only to perform her style of original political poetry, but to convince students that their vote matters.

The audience snapped fingers as DeMulder passionately performed one of her poems. As she recited her work, her voice ebbed and flowed with rhythmic diction, while her hand gestures illustrated the picture she was painting with her words.

“I really hope (DeMulder’s performance) inspires a lot of people to register to vote,” Megan Schindler, president of Cobber Poetry Society, said. “I think Sierra is going to touch on the emotional side of the issues, and I think she is going to get people to care.”

DeMulder said that what she does as an artist, and as a performer is essential to voting. With what she does, she can freely use her voice, just like people can use their voices and be heard by voting and making an impact.

“I feel like I chisel this moment into the world,” DeMulder said.

According to Catherine Bruns, the Campus Fellow for Concordia, DeMulder performed a combination of new and old pieces that she has written, as well as a few pieces written specifically for the event.

Bruns said the event’s sole purpose was to help encourage students to vote through a type of entertainment that raised awareness on social issues relative to the students, due to the low voter turnout typical of college campuses.

Bruns and members from other organizations started the event and spent time talking with the audience about voting. Campus Republicans, Student Government Association, Campus Entertainment Commission, and Campus Democrats worked together to educate the audience. They handed out registration forms and vote by mail forms to make sure that students were registered to vote.

“I think it’s a good way to bring a lot of students to one location,” Bruns said. “Students are spread out and so many things, it’s hard to remind them that (voting) is also really important.”

When looking for someone to perform for the event, Bruns contacted a number of different poets, but DeMulder was the first one to reply.

“(DeMulder) was the most enthusiastic, which was really exciting,” Bruns said. “other poets were available and affordable, but Sierra wanted to actually work with the campus community, write pieces specific for this event, and was really flexible when we needed her to be.”

In order for this event to take place, Bruns had to collaborate with not only the political organizations on campus, but she also contacted the Cobber Poetry Society to help host the event.

According to Schindler, poetry serves as a good vehicle for social and political messages. Furthermore, she explained that slam poetry and spoken word were founded on discussing social and political issues, so by doing the event, they were just keeping up with the tradition.

“(Cobber Poetry Society) is an organization that is dedicated to providing students with a safe space to explore poetry as a means of artistic expression,” Schindler said.

DeMulder would agree that a poet’s ability to voice their opinions is vital to social change.

“(My voice) is the sharpest weapon I will ever have,” DeMulder said.

According to Bruns, youth individuals are the ones who have the most at stake. She highlighted that many college students are influenced by healthcare, student debt, equal rights and various other factors. Bruns wants to be sure that this year, students will be present to vote on November 4.

“(Students) should finish the election feeling that they had a part in the results, that their voice was heard and that their voice mattered,” Bruns said.

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