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UAlbany Students Spread the Word

Can an off-campus event at a local cafe turn into a Student Association-recognized (funded) group? The correct answer is that anything is possible for University at Albany students, once they put their minds to it. That is precisely how the performance poetry group called SPREAD THE WORD got started. About three years ago UAlbany alumna Farrah Fidler, '04, organized open mic sessions at the Lionheart Blues Café, in downtown Albany. The group soon moved to the UAlbany campus and found its audience niche with undergraduate students.

Oren Silverman
Oren Silverman

SPREAD THE WORD creates an environment where not only poets, but any artist can comfortably share their work. "Poetry is encouraged and appreciated," says Oren Silverman, president of the STW group. Silverman, a junior from Brooklyn, says, "STW is another facet of the community that is neither political nor cultural, but has its ties through poetic art." In fact STW intentionally holds its open mic sessions on Wednesday nights in Ritazza's, a coffee shop in the Campus Center. "It creates an indirect collaboration between students, faculty and other members on campus," says Silverman.

One way STW is reaching its goals is by sponsoring the UAlbany SLAM team. A SLAM is a spoken word poetry competition. The team consists of four members and an alternate. The team will compete in a series of northeastern regional competitions with hopes to make it to the Nationals this year.

Liz Falardi
Liz Falardi

STW has also become involved with the Liberty Partnership Program. The LPP is a dropout prevention program targeted at young men and women in grades 7 - 12 in the Albany School District who are at risk of leaving school prior to graduation. STW has a connection to the LPP through its program coordinator, Mojavi Wright, who was last year's SLAM coach. The English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, joined SPREAD THE WORD to host writing workshops with local high school students several times during the month. "The program's benefits are two-fold. It allows us to give back to the community and display our talents simultaneously," says sophomore Liz Falardi, STW member.

So what is in store for STW next semester? The president's vision for STW includes preparing for National Poetry Month in April when they hope to have poetry-related events every day of the month. They also want to organize with other groups on campus beyond open mics, and promote their group to become as well known as some of the other nationally recognized organizations on campus. In cooperation with the University Art Museum, STW hopes to organize a series of poetry writing workshops where pieces can be critiqued and polished for future performances. SPREAD THE WORD plans to live up to its name.

For more on Spread the Word information contact: os1134@albany.edu.

This story was written by Esther Spencer, a junior, Business Administration major and Spanish minor from Brooklyn NY, who works in the University's Office of Media & Marketing.

Related Links:
Liberty Partnership Program
Sigma Tau Delta

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