By Devin Mulvey
SC Staff Writer
I had the pleasure of being asked to read some poetry at the EAPSU literary conference this Friday, April 16. The conference took place at Millersville University in Lancaster, PA.
This was the first time I had ever attended a literary conference, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
There were roughly thirty to forty people present in the poetry readings. We all crowded into a relatively small conference room with high vaulted ceilings, stained glass art, a glass chandelier, and intricate moldings.
I was the first to read so I was sweating and shaking a little. I have never been a crowd person and this was the first time I ever read a creative work out loud.
Oh and did I forget to mention this was a competition where you were being judged on the way you presented your work? Yeah, I was panicked to say the least.
I was able to get through the poem without stumbling, but my work fell flat because I was too scared to open up to the crowd. However, what I saw next completely floored me.
Another East Stroudsburg University student, Stephon Seawright, presented a poem with such vivacity I could feel every word he said.
Stephon read his poem, “I am a Black Man,” like he was preaching to hundreds of thousands of people. He spoke loudly and with enough pride to give everyone in the room goose bumps.
His poem ripped apart the issues of black on black violence and encouraged love for all people regardless of their color.
His diction was a beautifully woven masterpiece of alliteration and complex rhyme schemes. When asked how he orates so well, he responded, “It just comes from my heart.”
Stephon placed third in the competition for his poem and received well-deserved recognition for his efforts. Needless to say, he empowered everyone in the room to read their poems with the same amount of visceral energy.
The contestants following him carried the energy in their hearts and molded it to their work. They talked about extremely personal topics, but made them accessible to everyone in the room.
The energy in the crowd became so lively that every reader received a litany of claps and shouts congratulating them on their fine work.
The overarching theme in all the poems was a fantastic message of conquering our fears, learning to live, and self-love.
The keynote speaker was esteemed poet and professor, James Hoch. His speech fell right in with the theme of the poetry the crowd had just heard.
He gave an earnest, wise, and humorous speech on the key aspects of becoming a writer in any format. With all these amazing people around me, I felt I was standing at the feet of the next set of literary giants.
This conference was so much more than just a competition. It was showcasing the next voices of contemporary poetry and I am glad that I was able to bear witness to it.
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