UT student poets discuss their poetry for National Poetry Month

Hailey Howe

Poetry celebrates the human experience, and National Poetry Month in April celebrates poetry. Student poets find a channel for their passions, stories, struggles and identities via poetry. This month get to know the student poets on campus to celebrate the diversity and perspective of all kinds of poetry.

UT student poets write about an extensive range of topics, examining human emotion and typically tethering back to the theme of reflecting an identity in an epoch that sometimes tries to gloss over certain voices. Echo, a student-run literary magazine, publishes some poets on campus and provides a platform to share their voices.

Zoya Zia, an international relations and global studies junior, was published twice in Echo during her undergraduate career and finds inspiration for her writing in both nature and connection between people.

“I think I use (poetry) as a kind of coping mechanism to understand what’s going on, especially as a college student and as the oldest immigrant daughter. It’s like all the burdens that I carry with me release a little bit when I can express myself through poetry,” said Zia.

As Zia expressed, both the poet and the reader benefit from the cathartic experience of poetic expression. Sahara Khan, Spanish language junior and poet, prefers to write free verse poetry in order to evade the traditional poetic forms and  more fully communicate her beliefs about social justice as a minority. She said her goal is to facilitate understanding and connection between people of all backgrounds.

“I tell people that writing poetry is not only important because it helps you to find what you are really feeling about a subject or allow you to express your passion, but it’s also a way to allow you to connect with others in a really meaningful way. Because no one else is going to know what your personal struggle is in society, no one else is going to get any insight into a minority’s perspective unless you show them,” said Khan.

Many prospective poets find poetry intimidating because it can be so personal. Nora Greenstein Biond, Plan II and women and gender studies senior, encourages people to use poetry in whichever way is helpful to them, whether that be writing poetry themselves, reading it to better understand others or simply for enjoyment. Biond said she began writing poetry in middle school as a creative and therapeutic outlet.

“I wasn’t good at poetry when I started it (but) I don’t know what 13 year old is going to be like, handing out amazing poems to begin with,” Biond said. “I see it more as: Do you enjoy it, does it help your emotions get out, do you enjoy the process?”

Poetry is one of the best tools for empathy, and National Poetry Month brings more recognition and praise to writers.

“That’s my favorite part of being an Indian American and be able to show people … what my life is like through something that is a beautiful and creative medium,” said Khan.