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Poetry Power

Student's Web Project Aims to Bring People Together Through Creativity

Freshman Daniel Berrios chats with Honors College advisor Anita Hanson. (Photo by Naomi McPeters)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 13, 2017) — A freshman Psychology major hopes to bring people together by giving them a place to share thoughts and feelings they might otherwise write down and throw away.

Daniel Berrios of Long Island got his idea while sitting in his first semester creative writing class and realizing there is so much poetry that students write that they shove aside because they do not think it is good enough.

“I don’t think that’s a very good use of it,” says Berrios. Sharing it “shows other people that we’re all on the same page, thinking these things. It can bring us closer together as humans.”

Berrios, an Honors College student with a minor in Educational Studies, discussed his idea with Honors College advisor Anita Hanson, and came up with “Project Individual,” a website for students to submit their poetry. For him, the project is a celebration of the power and value of the individual and humanity.

Berrios hopes the website will become a place for students to come together and see how similar and different they are, and how beautiful lives can be. He says he is not judging the quality of the writing. He believes imperfection is, in essence, humanity.

Hanson said she was impressed with Berrios’s comfort level with other people when she first met him. “Daniel brought me a lot of joy in his first semester,” she says. Hanson thinks Project Individual will unleash a creative process with students who are willing to share their work.

“Perhaps we don’t recognize our abilities,” she said. “I feel as with many art [forms], that some people will think it is too raw and personal, and are not comfortable sharing.”

Berrios believes collecting people’s poetry is a way to bridge the gap between the self we show the world and the self we are on the inside. Poetry, he says, “helps us discover who we are as well as how everyone else functions.”

With this goal in mind, Project Individual will remind us, he says, “that everyone’s life is just as vivid as our own.”

An aspiring clinical psychologist, Berrios plans to use the arts, writing and any form of expression in his counseling work, because “it makes us feel different. I think there’s more to it than we give credit to.”

For his honors thesis, which he plans to write a few years down the road, he is thinking about exploring the relationship between mental health and creativity.

To submit poetry to Project Individual, visit the website.

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