Spoken word poet discusses women empowerment during moving performance

Spoken word poet discusses women empowerment during moving performance

October 28
14:39 2017

As the topic of women empowerment has taken a spotlight seat in the media recently, students and faculty gathered Tuesday in the Jade Eagle Ballroom to witness a literary expression of the issue. UNT’s University Program Council (UPC) invited nationally recognized spoken word poet Melissa Lozada-Oliva to give a thought-provoking performance focusing on the power of feminism.

Lozada-Oliva, a National Poetry Slam Champion, has had her work featured on websites like Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Upworthy and more. Using her art to focus on topics like women empowerment, being a Latina woman and other social issues, Lozada-Oliva delivers her voice in an inspiring way through poetry.

Lozada-Oliva got her bachelor’s degree at Simmons University in her hometown of Boston. She is currently studying poetry as a graduate student at New York University.

“I think I’ve always liked writing and liked attention,” Lozada-Oliva said. “The validation slam poetry gave to me was like nothing else.”

Presenting entirely original work, Lozada-Oliva’s performance was candid, compelling and moving. She discussed personal anecdotes like former loves, dating boys in bands and — ironically — being catcalled in front of an anti-catcalling mural in New York City. Her poetry left fellow females in the crowd feeling uplifted and encouraged to use their voice.

“Her poetry struck me because it’s not every day that you come across someone who writes poetry that I can relate to from a Hispanic girl perspective and a general girl perspective,” biology senior Griselda Pulgarin said. “[Lozada-Oliva] seems like a really nice person.”

Lozada-Oliva’s work mainly focuses on personal issues that she has faced as a woman, especially being a Latina woman. She said the majority of her work can be traced back to that identity as she enjoys sharing her story and discussing issues pertaining to those demographics. She aims for her work to inspire people similar to her.

“There’s so much hope and discussion constantly being churned out in classrooms and after-school programs,” Lozada-Oliva said. “It’s always exciting and invigorating to be around a crowd like that. When people hear me talk, I want them to come away being like, ‘I want to go home and write,’ or, ‘I want to call my grandmother.’”

With topics like sexual assault becoming an increasingly prevalent issue in the media, Lozada-Oliva hopes to help progress society to the point where women’s voices are heard and not pushed away or ignored.

“I believe that in a society that gaslights women, it’s our responsibility to care for and respect one another,” Pulgarin said. “We are all struggling together, in different ways.”

She expressed the importance of uplifting other women even if you are not struggling as much or at all, which is another theme Lozada-Oliva focuses on conveying through her poems.

Many attendees of the event seemed to be able to relate to at least one of the poems Lozada-Oliva performed.

“My favorite part was her poem about all the world’s problems and how she still couldn’t get her mind off a boy that didn’t text her back,” said Janrose Samson, a second-year Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS) student. “It’s hard to focus on the bigger picture and listen to your brain when we as humans are inherently selfish.”

With her array of poetry, Lozada-Oliva urged the audience members to not only think about the big social issues in society today, but also address smaller problems that humans face daily and often blow out of proportion, such as grades and relationships. With so many negative matters in the limelight recently, Lozada-Oliva hopes her work makes it more bearable.

“I want to encourage empathy and encourage creation,” Lozada-Oliva said. “I truly feel like we only have art and each other.”

With her poems, Lozada-Oliva appeared to do just that. She left listeners wanting to use their voice and speak up for their beliefs — much like she did during her performance.

“Women empowerment to me means empowering and uplifting other women,” Samson said. “It’s not just empowering myself and making sure I succeed, but helping my fellow sisters do the same.”

Lozada-Oliva’s book of poetry, Peluda, can be found online.

About Author

Grace Cottingham

Grace Cottingham

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