It can be difficult when away from family and familiarity to find a sense of home. Junior Mikaila (Rain) Taylor has found that sense of home in the Heart & Soul poetry club.
Started just a year ago, the club has already provided a space to write and appreciate poetry for Taylor and many others on campus.
Sophomore Kenedy Manuel, the club’s current president, had an idea for a poetry club before she even arrived on campus. Manuel connected with Taylor and Chelsea Springer, a previous Taylor student, through Director of Student Leadership and Intercultural Programs Maribel Magallanes. All three had been interested in starting a poetry club before joining forces.
The group was allowed to set up a table for the Office of Intercultural Programs (OIP) kickback fair at the beginning of the year to introduce their club to campus. Not even a full month into her semester, Manuel recalled how crazy it was at the start.
“It was second week into my freshman year,” Manuel said. “I was starting this club and didn't know what to do in a lot of ways, but Rain and Chelsea were very helpful.”
Now, after a full year of meetings, the club has found its rhythm. Most of the structured time in meetings consists of sharing time in which members can bring any poems or songs to share with others. Some of these poems are written by members and some are written by famous poets or songwriters. Occasionally, a meeting will incorporate a writing exercise, but Manuel stressed her effort to make it easy for everyone to join in, not just the seasoned writers.
The Heart & Soul poetry club is more than the structure of its meetings. It provides a space for people to be vulnerable and express themselves poetically or find a poem that speaks to them personally. Manuel specifically desired to create that safe space for people to share.
Taylor found that the club fulfills Manuel’s desire for a safe space and expressed her enjoyment for being able to hear what others share.
“Poetry is a piece of you,” Taylor said. “It's this thing that you create and you put out, and so being able to just accept those pieces of other people in the space is a really beautiful thing.”
Another member of the club, sophomore Audrey Hannum, expressed appreciation for finding a community of people that share a love not only for poetry but also language itself and the beauty that can come from it.
The name of the club is derived from a poem of the same name written by Springer. The poem itself was featured in The Echo in Nov. 2021. Springer said that she was inspired to write it by the passing of her grandfather.
Manuel related to Springer in that she also uses poetry for processing grief and emotions, a large reason why she wanted to create a safe space.
Although it’s not a classroom, the club still is a learning environment. Manuel explained the biggest lesson she learned was about leadership. Her view of what makes a successful leader has changed over the course of her time as one.
“I've learned being a leader doesn't necessarily mean accomplishment or success,” Manuel said.
Instead, she felt the club has been successful because of the community they’ve all created.
“Come join us,” Taylor said. “You don't have to write poetry to be welcome in the poetry club. It's more about people who just appreciate it.”
The Heart & Soul poetry club meets every first and third Friday of the month in the Relief Room in Reade.