On Monday, September 23, 2013, the ballroom of Colket had a couple hundred chairs set up for students and faculty to come and listen to Lauren Zuniga perform slam poetry. In her introduction, we learned that Lauren is a three time national slam finalist currently on tour with her book, The Smell of Good Mud. Outside of that though, it is clear to see from her poetry that she is an activist in many senses of the word. Politically and socially, she aims to change perspectives through her work. Her personal introduction quickly became a piece of poetry itself, describing her home state of Oklahoma, home to the largest hill in the world, a foot shy of a mountain. Getting the night rolling by making the audience laugh, Lauren gave us a taste of what the night of poetry would be like.
Her poetry wasn’t just in the words she was speaking in rhythm on stage, it was in the way her hands moved as well as the way she shook her head. Her stage presence made even the jingling of her earrings or the crack of her water bottle opening musical. “This is an invitation to stop swallowing the art in your mouth” she said, reaching out to all of us to stay creative. She was real with the audience in a way that college students crave. At one point she asked if she was going too far, bringing up controversial topics and speaking too bluntly and possibly offensively, but she received a thumbs-up from the back and continued. “If you’re not willing to make people uncomfortable, you’re not willing to become a poet,” Lauren’s performance was full of lines that made you wish you had a notebook and enough time to write them all down.
Much of her poetry was inspired by things that made her angry. Legislation passed in Oklahoma, as well as seeing things every day like inequality and hate are what drives her poetry. At one point in her performance, she asked the audience who was a feminist? She then posed questions to all of us: “Do we believe all humans were created equal? Do we believe women are humans? Then we are all feminists” she said before jumping into more poetry that laid out her feelings on the subjects of stereotyping and inequality. “You’ve been drowning in labels so long, let me help you survive,” Lauren gave inspiration in every piece she performed. Everyone left the ballroom with a better perspective than the one they walked in with.