NICOLE PAVESE, Special to The Denisonian—The spoken word is something people can forget about in the midst of daily life. Persistent American busy culture continues to influence how much time citizens spend on listening, being present in the moment and influenced by those in the arts.

The first-ever Julie Cartland Bogaert Student Reading Series took place on the third floor of Slayter Student Union (otherwise known by students as “the Nest” or “the Roost”) on Friday, October 25. It was an evening set up with an ambiance of votive candles, tapestry tablecloths and a rug with a spotlight on the lone open mic.

The Bogaert Student Reading Series is an event open with the purpose of displaying the creative writing of Denison students, twice a semester. The next reading will be held on December 13, the last day of classes during the fall semester.

It attracted 17 student readers in total to sign up prior to the event, reading their various works for up to five minutes. The event allowed any and all students to participate in sharing a piece of their own creative work. The Bogaert Student Reading Series welcomed people of every background to listen to the art of storytelling through spoken word and dance. With around one hundred students in attendance at one point, they came to either perform or cheer on their fellow classmates throughout the night. The readings mixed with a dance from Sazón, Denison’s Latin Dance Team, food and original music all made for an eventful evening.

The event commenced with an opening remark from Professor Jessica Hendry Nelson, the faculty advisor to the student-run event. Nelson read a short piece of writing about the importance of storytelling. It stated that “going to events like these we are engaging in an ancient life-saving practice.” She then handed off the microphone to Sara Abou Rashed ‘21, an international studies and creative writing double major from Columbus, Ohio, the host for the night, to get the evening started.

Throughout the night, every student that got up on stage read their piece(s) with passion and emotion. Some expressed more vulnerability in more serious pieces, others expressed humor in their satirical works. Every piece of writing was very well crafted and had such a unique tone that continuously captured the audience’s attention. There were many mediums of writing read throughout the night ranging from sonnets, spoken-word, essays and prose. Within these mediums, the artists wrote about a wide variety of topics from love, alcohol addiction, homelessness and even Instagram likes. A particular crowd favorite was a satirical essay about the average American if their life was a commercial.

Another crowd favorite was the spoken word piece entitled The Drug Addict’s Daughter by Kaylah Linkiewicz ‘23. Linkiewicz is a double major in theater and music from Columbus, Ohio. She remarked: “I loved having an environment where I felt I could say or do anything. It was a really safe and warm space for ideas and creativity. Life isn’t always the best but I feel that for me and probably many others, writing is an outlet for all of the bad that happens and being able to read that out loud is just such an amazing thing.”
After a brief intermission, Sazón performed a fun and vibrant number to a medley of different Latin American songs which fired up the crowd and got them energized for the second half of the readings. After some more wonderful pieces of creative writing were read, the night ended with an original song by Sunny Steirwood ‘22, a history major from Denver, Colorado.

Nelson believes that The Bogaert Series was an extreme success, recalling the event as “beautiful… what is so great about [the Bogaert Student Reading Series] is that we have an opportunity to celebrate the creative community that is already here that hasn’t had a platform before.”

It was an excellent chance for students to display their writing and even inspire others to write. Something to look out for is the short documentary that is being made by Professor Doug Swift about Josh Gringas, a Denison Facilities Services worker who recited a poem at the event about his alcohol addiction and poverty in Newark, Ohio. You can find this content by following @bogaertseries on Instagram and Facebook. The event will now be held twice every semester. If you wanted to read something or listen and support fellow students but didn’t have the chance this past Friday, the next reading will occur on December 13. Contact Sara Abou Rashed ‘21 via email at [email protected] to sign up.