#WritersResist, 2018

Chloe Rodriguez, CHASS Student Writer
June 11, 2018

Advised by poet and professor Allison Hedge Coke and co-coordinated by Jaclyn Hymes, Samantha Reid Aviña, Jasmine Smith, and Kathleen Taylor, UCR held its Spring 2018 Writers Resist event on May 31 in INTS. The Writers Resist movement is a major literary protest and show of strength that began right before the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. Students, faculty members, alumni, and community members came out to express their own resistance.  “It’s important we show the community that we stand in solidarity.”, Kathleen Taylor said as she got ready to start the event. “I look forward to the audience’s reactions, to have them feel vulnerable”, which is exactly what this event is all about, to pull otherwise hidden emotions out and to display them in front of those who may feel the same way.

At the front of the room, a projector screen displayed tweets that contained each performers name along with the subject of their poem. The event kicked off with professor Hedge Coke presenting one of her own poems. Kimberly Guerro followed, creating an interactive experience. “Do we, as writers, take care of our bodies?” she started as she rubbed her hands together. This was to show how easily energy can be created. She had everybody in the audience stand up and rub their hands together as well, to create energy and wipe away whatever exhaustion one was feeling. From there, the audience turned to the people around them and wiped each other’s backs, freeing them from whatever caused their exhaustion. Various poets took the stage and spoke about resistance in their own way, whether through bullying and discrimination or cultural limitations and stereotypes. Some used pop culture references and others used a unique experience they had had in their life.  In one performance, a playwright, Leelee Jackson, performed with two other people with the topic; Black bodies are a resistance. With Jackson in the center, the other two stood on either side with their backs facing her. She started the performance before a growing conversation happened between the two other performers. It was both visually and auditorily stimulating as their voices grew a little louder and their words picked up the pace. None of them looked at each other, but their words met together as if they were having a normal conversation. Towards the end, all three faced the audience before Jackson finished the spoken word performance. 

Another eye-catching performance was from a young man named Jemuel Jr. B Garcia. An audio clip of him reciting his poem was displayed on the projector screen behind him as he danced along with his words. His movements were steady, but swift. His body conveyed an emotion that would have been impossible through just words. Birds chirped in the background of his poem which made the room feel calm and strong, leaving a lasting impression on the audience. Another impressive poem was from a young girl, Gabriela Krezchuck. Her poem was about the fear of driving at any time of day because of the color of her skin. Her emotion was like none other, it felt terrifying. She repeated the colors, Red, Blue, Black, White along with the names, Bland, Castile, Martin, Brown, Till. The poem was full of paranoia, repeats, and something only one would be able to feel when faced in an indistinguishable situation as the names above once had. In the last performance, there was a man who read from his up and coming chapbook all about words that had been selectively heard in daily life. Kathleen Taylor closed the event, complimenting the performers and the audience applauding. The next upcoming Writers Resist will be held in the Fall for anybody inspired or interested in joining the fight for justice.

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