SAGA’s Poetry as Protest Provides Safe Space for Creative Solidarity

This past Friday, Inauguration Day, Augustana students and members of the community, gathered together in the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art, to share poems, songs and, generally, the spoken word, in an event set up by SAGA called Poetry as Protest.  Many people including the band No Pants Friday, Aubrey Barnes, Xixuan Collins, Debo Balogun and others performed in order to protest the inauguration of the new POTUS in creative solidarity.
The art performed at Poetry as Protest ranged in topic from sexuality to race to sexism, and highlighted some of the current fears of many of the country’s minorities.  While the topics at hand were definitely heavy, the atmosphere of the event stayed sympathetic, supportive and open as more and more artists shared their experiences.  
The event itself was set up in order to allow those who feel marginalized by the rhetoric used by President Trump in his campaign, to express their feelings through art.  “We thought it would be a very good place for people to have a voice,” explained SAGA’s event coordinator, Uxmar Torres.  “It reminds us that we are not alone in our suffering, it reminds us that we are not alone in our protest,” said Torres.
Torres, who also was a performer in the event and read several of his original poems, explained that Poetry as Protest represents the fact that people care and will not stand for the actions taken during Trump’s campaign or now, during his presidency.  “Not everyone voted for him,” states Torres.  “And this is proof.”  
The event consisted of many wonderful readings of original poetry, as well as the musical talents of many individuals and groups.  One such performer, Aubrey Barnes, a local poet from the Quad Cities, read several pieces at the event.  “I just love the art of poetry and just the history,” Barnes explained to the audience.  “[Poetry] affirms our feelings…it gives us a vulnerable place.”
Since the election has left many people feeling isolated due to the words and actions of President Trump, SAGA’s goal with Poetry as Protest was to provide a safe environment for expression.    
“With this inauguration, we feel so helpless and people ask what we can do,” said former student of Augustana and poet, Sage Shemroske.  “I try not to overestimate what art is capable of, but I do think this kind of passion and this kind of fuel is really important.”
Shemroske explained that Poetry as Protest provides people with a way to connect on a more intimate level through the sharing of experiences and personal art.  While citizens of the country prepare for the next four years, Shemroske stated that “safety in numbers” is very important, and events like Poetry as Protest help to create such safety.  
Poetry as Protest explored an option that each individual has in protesting and expression through art and community.   “Finding not only support but a form of support than can give you voice,” Shemroske stated, “is the best way to go about it.”  As Trump’s presidency and the protesting of his presidency continue, groups who feel marginalized by actions taken around the country can find their voice in events like Poetry as Protest.