On the evening of March 18, 2021, Wagner College students and faculty, as well as guests from the community, gathered together virtually on Zoom to participate in an open-mic poetry event.
The event was kicked off by the guest poet L. Ash Williams, who also faciliated the open-mic with the students. Williams is a native of Brooklyn, NY. She was Host Committee Chair for the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam and was a member of the 2013 louderArts National Poetry Slam team. She has been featured at Bowery Poetry, SupaDupaFresh, and Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Her work has been published by the Academy of American Poets (Poem-a-Day) and American Public Media (The Slowdown podcast.) You can read her poem "Red Wine Spills" on the Poets.org website and listen to her poem "Woman in New York" on All Def Poetry's YouTube channel.
After she read and talked about some of her own poems, the students joined in, reading their work and responding to each other with encouragement. Often their poems were deeply personal, expressing love, loss, pain, and joy, while sometimes exploring issues of gender and racial equity. As the reading progressed and everyone began to talk about their journey through writing, some students who had only come to listen supportively and quietly felt emboldened by Williams's own story to come forward to share their work, too. Together, Williams and the students created a supportive, loving vibe to inspire the Wagner community.