Award-winning author Denice Frohman shares work on campus
When spoken-word poet Denice Frohman speaks, an auditorium comes alive with the crooked cadence of snapping fingers and punctuative sighs.
On Thursday, Nov. 2, the 2013 Women of the World Poetry Slam champion engaged an audience of nearly 60 people in Miller Hall with poems and anecdotes celebrating diversity and togetherness.
Frohman introduced spoken-word poetry as a conversation.
“You get to interact with the work in real time,” Frohman said to the crowd in invitation. “You don’t have to wait until after the poem is finished to make yourself heard.”
Frohman, whose topics include race, gender, sexuality and “inbetween-ness,” performed her unique brand of slam poetry with vigor and kinetic energy for more than an hour, before taking questions from the audience.
Sophomore Megan Warren called the experience amazing.
“I really liked the ‘First Kiss’ poem,” Warren said. “It related to my experiences of realizing that I’m a lesbian,” she said. “I connected with it a lot.”
Frohman interspersed personal anecdotes between poems, lending levity and insight throughout the evening.
“I think writing and poetry can be deeply communal,” Frohman said. “It’s looking inward. I don’t feel alone; I’m walking towards myself. I get to wrestle with the things that try to kill me, but I win.”
Frohman uses her unique voice to speak to and for marginalized groups. An audience member asked her why she started writing poetry.
“I didn’t think poets looked like me or sounded like me,” Frohman said. “ I didn’t think that my experience was a worthy thing of writing about. I thought poetry was for old white men, and that’s it.”
Frohman said there are a lot of different cultures and histories in America worthy of learning about.
“White students need that history too,” Frohman said. “It’s a gift.”
Frohman has performed at more than 200 colleges and at the White House in 2016, according to her biography on her website.
Second year graduate student Maeve Pickus said she didn’t know of Frohman’s work before coming to the event. One of her classmates invited her.
“I knew I needed to come,” Pickus said. “I’m trying to make more of an effort to come to events on campus that speak to truths of marginalized groups’ experience. Hearing people express themselves, especially in this powerful, authentic way is really important for me,” she said.
Despite the seriousness of some of the subject matter, such as borders, divisiveness and bigotry, some students said they left feeling full of energy.
“She does wonderful work to make you think hard about difficult topics while pushing you to feel hopeful as well,” Pickus said.
The event was coordinated by the Womxn’s Identity Resource Center.
Pickus said she hopes to see Associated Students continue to support the Womxn’s Identity Resource Center bringing speakers like Frohman to campus.
“They bring great events to campus,” Pickus said. “[They] represent groups that don’t have the resources they need.”