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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Award-winning poet visits Western

Dominique Christina’s poetry performance was not for the faint of heart.

“Assume trigger warnings in everything I say,” Christina said. “If you are feeling triggered you should take care of yourself by whatever means.”

Christina is an award-winning poet and activist who has won two Women of the World Poetry Slam championships and the 2013 National Underground Poetry Individual Competition, according to her website.

She has performed for the families of Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot at the age of 17 by a neighborhood watch volunteer, and Emmett Till, who was killed at the age of 14 after being accused of flirting with a white girl in 1955 in Mississippi, according to her website.

Christina read poems about her childhood, losing her virginity, black kids getting shot and her experience dealing with her daughter’s period.

The event took place in Fraser Hall room 102 on Monday, April 3.

The poems Christina performs are never predetermined, she said.

“I never know what I am going to read,” Christina said. “It is all about how I feel in a space and if I don’t feel safe, I do not reveal myself.”

Christina said she had a lot to live up to because she came from a family activists and high achievers. One of her relatives has won the Congressional Medal of Honor and another is a baseball hall of famer.

Even though she came from an accomplished family, Christina said she had to deal with violence and abuse growing up.

“When violence introduces itself to you, you are not the same,” Christina said. “Your consideration of the world changes.”

After talking about her childhood, she went on to speak and perform a poem about losing her virginity at the age of 16.

“I planned it for eight months because I wanted to get it right,” Christina said. “If you do this the right way, right person and right time, you might be able to get your body back. Because, for me, it still belonged to my stepfather.”

Next, Christina talked about black children who died in recent years.

“There are critical conversations to have. About who is protected and who can be legitimately killed,” Christina said. “Because when they die, if they are vilified even in death, they are probably not in the protected class.”

Christina wrote a poem dedicated to the mothers of black children who were shot called “Mothers of Murdered Sons.”

“It is for three women in particular: Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till, Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton and Michael Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden,” Christina said.

The “Mothers of Murdered Sons” really made an impact on sophomore Daniel Kolb.

“The most poignant poem and the one that brought me to tears was the one about mothers whose boys were murdered,” Kolb said.

To conclude, Christina ended on a light note by talking about her daughter’s first period.

“I threw her a period party with everybody showing up in red and we collectively raised the roof to my daughter’s shedding uterus.”

Sophomore Brendan O’Neill enjoyed Christina’s no-filter approach to her performance

“At first it was surprising, but it made sense,” O’Neill said. “In order to get issues out in the air and better understand them, it is way better to be open for people to feel a personal connection and share their own experiences.”

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