Campus climate activists host enviroment-themed poetry slam


Bre Westry / Hilltop Views

Student performs at SFS and Sorin Oak Review’s enviromental themed poetry slam. The event is the first of many that will combine art and climate justice.

St. Edward’s University’s Students for Sustainability (SFS) and the Sorin Oak Review hosted an environmental themed poetry slam Thursday, April 25 in Jo’s Coffee Shop.

The collaboration between the organization and the publication was sparked by SFS’s desire to incorporate more art into their environmental efforts and people’s lives.

“We feel like it is important to talk about these issues in several different ways in order to connect with different people and see how all of the social issues that are involved in environmental justice are very connected,” Mary Knothe, a senior and co-president of SFS, said.

Starting a little after 6:30 pm, a sizeable group of participants, audience members and coffee patrons gathered tightly in the campus’ small, corner coffee shop. Several students read personal works exemplifying their connections and relationships with the Earth, each reading punctuated by the pulsing coffee grinder and whistles from steaming milk.

“Through art, we are able to come together and connect these different issues,” Knothe said.

Senior Chrystalla Cristodoulou, a section editor for Sorin Oak Review, decided to share her poetry at the slam for several reasons, beginning with her love of themed events.

“I have been thinking a lot about how art can come into different social issues, especially environmentalism. It’s something I don’t know very much about, so art and poetry, specifically, is my entryway into it,” Cristodoulou said.

Corinne Bates, another senior student, is an outreach and social media editor for Sorin Oak Review. Bates read her poem “Stars and Oil,” which is in the 2018 issue of Sorin Oak Review, which will be released on May 2.

Bates also pointed out the connection between art and the environment.

“If you don’t have the world around you, you can’t do anything. Whether it’s music, art, business — anything. You can’t breathe,” Bates said.

Even a professor, Peter Beck, who teaches environmental science and policy and facilitates the annual EcoLead trip to Costa Rica, got up to the microphone to read the familiar, classic Dr. Seuss tale, “The Lorax.” Only, instead of the English version, Beck told the story in Swahili.

Those that did not want the pressure of reading their own works or feared judgment were still encouraged to participate by reading poems personally selected by Sam Griffith, Editor-in-Chief of Sorin Oak Review.

Griffith, along with the rest of Sorin Oak Review and Students for Sustainability, hopes to continue intertwining art and sustainability in the future.Their collaboration will continue with the latest episode of Sorin Oak Radio, the publication’s podcast. Miguel Escoto, co-president of Students for Sustainability, as well as a number of other environmental enthusiasts, can be heard reading their Earth-inspired poetry.