On April 23, Sisters in Spirit and the Gay Straight Alliance hosted a “Sex Slam” poetry night in the Center for Campus Ministry as part of the campus “Let’s Talk About Sex at MC” program. During the event, members of the Maryville College community performed original and other pieces about sex, sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases and love.
Junior political science major Keli Shipley was involved in planning the Sex Slam and said the idea for the event originated from a meeting of campus leaders.
“We have done an event similar to this last year in lieu of the Vagina Monologues,” Shipley said. “We hoped that students would learn to be open to talking about sex and being more comfortable with the topic.”
Shipley also said the event fit into the goals of both sponsoring organizations.
“Sisters in Spirit and GSA can seem like very different groups, but oftentimes, a lot of our topics will overlap,” Shipley said.
Resident director Aja Rodriguez also helped to organize and performed during the event. Rodriguez said that the goal of the Sex Slam was to allow people to present poetry, prose and anything related to sexuality.
“We wanted an opportunity for anybody of any sexual orientation, traumatic sexual experience, or good or bad sexual experience to have a place to say that,” Rodriguez said.
Many students took advantage of the opportunity to read their own work or the works of others that contained a variety of sexual or love-related themes.
History with licensure major Jordan Venditti performed an original piece, “Here are three words for you, my dear.”
“I read because I was really interested in the idea of a Sex Slam,” Venditti said. “I wrote [the poem] a year or so ago, but I felt that it was fitting for this occasion.”
Senior theater studies major Walker Harrison read an original poem, a poem by Pablo Neruda and a piece that he performed with Rodriguez. Harrison said he selected his readings for their qualities as good performance pieces and their sexual focus.
“The [original] poem is one I’ve always wanted to perform because I think it sounds better and works better as a performance piece than a written piece,” Harrison said. “Pablo Neruda, I thought, was super hot, so I figured I’d share that with everyone.”
Junior writing/communications major Kegan Rinard and sophomore writing/communications major Joshua Loomis read a Shakespearean sonnet that Rinard picked for its gender ambiguity.
“I like performing, so I decided that I’d do it,” Rinard said. “I enjoy getting in front of people, especially when it has a purpose.”
Other members of the MC community were also involved in presenting. Rev. Dr. Anne McKee was the leader for the event and read, “I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body.” She also read from the Book of Solomon in the Holy Bible.
“The Song of Solomon in the Bible is a book of love poetry,” McKee said. “Since this was an evening of love poetry in the CCM, I thought, how could you go wrong?”
Harrison said that McKee’s Biblical readings added to the event.
“I think Anne McKee’s interludes with scripture were really good,” Harrison said.
Junior English literature major Alex Quesenberry said she liked the event, particularly the original pieces that were presented.
“I enjoyed the experience,” Quesenberry said. “I was really surprised at all the talent, with people reading things they wrote themselves. It was a good time.”
Harrison, Rodriguez, Rinard and others said they would be interested in participating in the event if it happens again in the future.
“I hope that we have a Sex Slam every year,” Rodriguez said. “I hope that it continues.”