Aug 09, 2020
Fresno State pre-nursing major and housing assistant Samantha Valencia performs a music cover of Adele’s song, “Water Under the Bridge” at Fresno State’s Poetry Jam in the North Gym on Tuesday, Aug. 20. (Anjanae Freitas/The Collegian)

Poetry Jam gives students a platform to share their voices

Nearly 100 students gathered around the North Gym on Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. in anticipation of Fresno State’s first Poetry Jam of the fall semester.

Poetry Jam is a monthly event at the university in collaboration with Fresno State’s Cross Cultural and Gender Center (CCGC) programs and services.

The open event was aimed at students who were looking to get more involved at school, as well as a way to inspire other students to get out of their comfort zones. The various performances included music covers, spoken word and poetry readings.

There were 15 students who signed up to perform. Performers and poets spoke and sang about topics ranging from financial freedom and interpersonal relationships to love and religion.

One performer who the crowd seemed to enjoy in particular was Samantha Valencia, Fresno State housing assistant and pre-nurse/death studies major, who did a cover of Adele’s “Water Under the Bridge.” The crowd cheered during and after Valencia’s performance.

“This is my first time performing at this event. Being a part of Fresno State’s housing, we always encourage students to attend,” Valenica said. “I’ve never really done anything outside of this other than talent shows growing up. I was so nervous up there, my hands were literally shaking.”

As the event continued, there were multiple five-minute intermissions to break up the performances.

One intermission that seemed to get the crowd’s attention was a game of Kahoot! Students gathered around to play a variety of games to win prizes, like a $25 Target gift card and Fresno State merchandise.

The CCGC included its LGBTQ, Pacfic Islander, and African-American programs and services, all of which helped get students involved by giving out free prizes, such as stickers and buttons. A variety of free snacks, desserts and beverages were also provided.

Tommy Mak, student coordinator of Asian Pacific Islander programs and services, has attended several of the events in the past and said he enjoys the freedom it affords student performers.

“These Poetry Jams happen every month. This is currently the fifth one I have attended,” Mak said. “I like these events because students can be free to express themselves and show off their poetry skills.”

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