“You gotta be willing to be brave enough to be the only one who knows you’re afraid.” Lines like this and more were performed by international touring poet and performance artist, Ebony Stewart, Wednesday night at her Student Activities Committee (SAC) sponsored spoken word show.
The show was held in the Mills in Dows at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, October 2nd, with fifteen students in attendance. Stewart performed five poems: “Transparent,” “Box,” “How to Properly Flirt with Somebody You’re Attracted to and Want to Be Your Boo,” “Fear,” and “Blink.” These topics range everywhere from pick-up lines to advocating for sex education to race and resilience.
Audience members were encouraged by Stewart to interact with their emotions, bodies, and words in order to generate a positive energy to work with.
“She is able to connect with people in a really good way,” said SAC public relations chair Hallie Eickhoff ‘20. “Even with the smaller audience, she was able to work with and talk to everybody and specifically ask certain people questions and make them all feel involved in the performance.”
During the show, she passed around an empty box for audience members to submit anonymous questions, in which she later answered in a Q&A session.
“I think that [the Q&A is] important to getting to know a person, because you have the layer of poetry which is really cool for me, but also, it allows me to interact with the audience in a different way, kind of get to know you all and see your personalities too, and just make myself more available to not take myself so seriously,” Stewart said. “Like we’re all here in this thing, we all have questions; normalize that a little bit more.”
The Q&A, as well as some of her poems, were focused on sex education and activism. Stewart is a former sex educater and is currently pursuing a license for sex therapy. Stewart says her background with sexual health education makes her more open and conscience in what she is writing and how others perceive things.
“There’s not a very good dialouge around sex and sexual health and she’s kind of trying to take it away from being a taboo and make it something that like we actually understand,” said attendee Elizabeth Condon ‘22.
Stewart is the author of two books, has been featured in multiple publications, and is one of the most decorated poets in Texas, as she has won many awards and competitions, such as the 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam. She has toured all over the country, performing for crowds as large the 2019 Seattle Pride Fest, which was said to have about 200,000 people in attendance. Needless to say, Stewart’s performance here at Coe was a different experience.
“Oh, I loved it,” Stewart said. “It really helps when the audience is smaller and they feel less pressure to you know— they’re not as afraid to speak up and say things.”
SAC decided to book Stewart as their spoken word artist of the semester after their executive board saw her perform at the National Association for Campus Activities conference.
“Out of all the spoken word poets, she really stood out to us, especially because she did that same sex-ed thing,” Eickoff said.
Students can expect to hear more spoken word like Stewart as Eickhoff says SAC plans to host a spoken word artist each semester.