Augustana Observer

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Augustana Observer

Zuniga expresses her activism through poetry

Poet Lauren Zuniga poses on a yellow couch for Oklahoma Magazine.   Photo courtesy of Lauren Zuniga.
Poet Lauren Zuniga poses on a yellow couch for Oklahoma Magazine.
Photo courtesy of Lauren Zuniga.

Starting out as an 18-year-old rapper, poet Lauren Zuniga has now released two poetry collections and internationally performs her work mostly concerned with feminism, gender and sexuality.
She will be performing at 8 p.m. on Friday in the Brew as part of the Office of Student Life and Leadership’s Live on Campus series.
“I really just feel in love with performing poetry,” said Zuniga. “I won my first slam (poetry contest in 2000), and I won $12, two cigarettes and a condom, and I decided that this was my calling.”
Zuniga said that her hour-long performance is mostly her reciting her poems, describing their inspirations and meanings with the occasional joke.
“I described my show recently as a stand up comedy show that has sad feelings, too,” said Zuniga. “The feedback I get is that people feel all kinds of different emotions throughout the hour of me talking. It’s kind of just story time for grown ups.”
Zuniga said her work is focused around what is happening in Oklahoma but with national trends such as marriage equality.
“(There’s a) juxtaposition of not having the right to marry and not feeling like I fully have control over my own body versus the liberties that a lot of the conservative people in Oklahoma like to preach about,” said Zuniga.
Paige Pierson, a live on campus co-chair, said Zuniga is a role model.
“It’s the imagery and conjunctions,” said Pierson. “She’s not afraid to use words like gonna or wanna or ain’t or shit. She really expresses herself, and (the poems) are really inspiring…I’m not even a creative writer, and I thought ‘hey, I want to try to write something like this.’”
In 2012, Zuniga released her second poetry collection entitled “The Smell of Good Mud,” an assortment of poems about her grappling with her sexuality as well as raising her children in a collective artist’s household she started called Clementine.
“Everything around me inspires me,” said Zuniga. “Everything that’s kind of absurd. It’s easy to write poetry when you’re angry about something, so I do a lot of that, but I think (about) anything that I am trying to make sense of in my life emotionally and spiritually.”
Zuniga also became an ordained minister in order to marry people and to hopefully have the opportunity to do a memorial service.
“I know that’s morbid, but after going to a bunch of religious funerals, I just feel like there might be a need for a non-religious funeral,” said Zuniga.
Currently, Zuniga is working on a website called The Super Powered Life, the theme of which is poetry to make people feel powerful. So far, she said she has pieces about her grandmother, who is an influence in her work. She said that the website also features political topics as well as poems about her two 9 and 7-year-old children.
“As they age, they are coming to term with their own identities, and I am trying to be supportive of that,” said Zuniga.

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Zuniga expresses her activism through poetry