Michigan State University hosts over 1,000 student-led organizations ranging from the arts to technology and everything in between.
The Black Poet Society, or BPS, is one of them, with the primary mission of creating a safe space for students to create writing and public speaking skills in the form of poetry. Psychology junior Joya Bailey, president of the Black Poet Society, said the organization promotes love and encouragement.
“We promote a nonjudgmental space that will exude love, unity, and encouragement at ALL TIMES,” Bailey said in an email.
Hosting a club representing Black poetry can be challenging on a large campus like MSU. Sometimes recognition does not come often, primarily because MSU's Black students are often one of the only few Black people in their classrooms and at social events here on campus.
“There are not many times I walk into a classroom and see people that look like me,” Bailey said in an email. “Because of this, it is a lot harder to ask for help or form study groups within those classes seeing as though we have to work 3 times hard to have our voices heard. I organized this organization as a place people will be able to go to express the injustices that they might feel on a daily … a place for people to share pressing feelings and meet people who are there to support them.”
Arts and humanities junior Adriana Dent agreed that BPS promotes the importance of having a safe space on campus for the Black community - a common goal in many of the Black student groups at MSU.
“The Black Poet Society strives to cultivate and maintain a safe creative space for our Black community,” Dent said in an email. “It is organized to welcome and build relationships while writing poetry. I greatly lacked a sense of community on campus. After putting myself out there and becoming active with RSO’s my experience took a turn for the better.”
Creative advertising sophomore Radian Angel Libby said BPS's goal is to combat the isolation Black students may feel at a predominantly white institution.
“As many Black students know, going to a PWI can be intimidating sometimes,” Libby said in an email. “BPS provides a safe space for students to express themselves and share work that really means something to them.”
The Black Poet Society plans to soon host workshops and open mics tailored to helping students get comfortable with public speaking and embracing their creative side. So far, they have done general body meetings and bonding meetings to check in with members and to help spread the word about them.
“We have hopes of doing an open mic night very soon and next semester, we hope to do a poetry slam at the Wharton center,” Bailey said in an email. “We will also have guest speakers coming in soon as they lead workshops and build connections with our writers.”
Advertising management junior Kaj McFarland said that spreading the word about poetry has been a smooth ride and she hopes more people will come out and see what they are about.
If students would like to follow along with the Black Poet Society and seek more information, follow their Instagram @bpsmsu.
“Come and see what we’re about,” McFarland said in an email. "You don’t have to be an amazing writer or poet. Everyone is welcome to join and share anything.”
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