By: Emily Guiles
Usually the terms ‘run like a girl’, ‘throw like a girl’, or ‘act like a girl’ are considered insults, usually towards those of the male gender.
However, Olivia Gatwood and Megan Falley are attempting to re-conquer these terms through their spoken word poetry tour called, “Speak Like A Girl”.
Fierce feminists, Gatwood and Falley come from two different backgrounds. Falley. A published poet, and Gatwood a slam poetry heavy weight, but they have come together to perfect their craft and bring awareness to their cause through the constructive use of their art.
Although they are one of the first spoken word poet duos to go on the road, they do not consider themselves to be pioneers in their field.
Falley states, “I wouldn’t call us pioneers, but I think that taking the show on the road just the two of us is, hopefully, lighting a torch… for more women to do shows together.”
Falley also went on to comment that spoken word poetry itself is an old art form, and can be dated back to ancient times when all they had was word of mouth and spoken stories.
In most instances poetry comes from personal experience and personal heart ache. This is also true when it comes to Gatwood and Falley’s writing.
Gatwood said that she learns to check out during highly emotional performances, but that it is also crucial to have a genuine performance, and putting yourself in the appropriate mental state.
Although these women are feminists they do not alienate men from their audience, on the contrary they want men to listen and learn from their poetry. It was important to both Gatwood and Falley to include men in their shows and reiterate that not all men are inherently bad or malicious towards women, but that it does happen.
At the beginning of their performance Gatwood and Falley had all the girls in the audience raise their hands if they had ever been cat called or made uncomfortable by the forwardness of a stranger, and every girl in the audience raised their hands. Both hoped that something like this would open the eyes of the men in the audience and help them to understand some of the unwanted attention that women receive.
Gatwood commented, “not all men have sexually assaulted someone, but all women have in some way been made to feel uncomfortable in that way.”
Following their performance at Muskegon Community College, which was their first stop on their tour, Gatwood and Falley gave audiences a chance to buy their poetry books, and get a chance to have them signed. Everyone in the audience lined up, it took an hour and a half to get through everyone. And about three quarters of the way through both Gatwood and Falley sold out, and had to start taking down addresses to mail the books at a later date.
This performance was made possible by the Muskegon Writing Center and its chair, Mary Tyler, who was present.
Muskegon Community College prides itself on their graduates and this years grads were no different. The ceremony started off with students in the choir showing off their vocal talent by singing I’ve got the Music in Me. The band then played the star spangled banner to begin the ceremony.
Trustee reverend Ann Oaks delivered a prayer for the futures of the graduates and also the invocation to start off. Followed by Secretary of the Board of Trustees Nancy Frye, who welcomed all those participating and delivered the story of a close friend, currently passed, in hopes of inspiring incoming students and graduates to follow and find their mission in life.
President Dale Nesbary then spoke to the graduates directly and stated, “all of you are role models,”. Nesbary also reiterated his passion for MCC and its motto, Start Stay Succeed. Which he believes all the graduates possess, and have embodied.
Apparent in all Muskegon Community College functions is the diversity in the demographics of all the students, this was especially apparent regarding this years two 2015 commencement speakers, Senelisiwe Nyoni Simpson and Ashley Jagnecki.
Simpson explained that her life was not always as comfortable as it is now. Growing up in central Zimbabwe, the fourth child out of ten, and her father’s untimely death stopped her college aspirations in its tracks. She received no reprieve when she married her first husband who was physically and mentally abusive. However, a chance meeting with a Zimbabwean member of Aglow International, an interdenominational organization, which led to Simpsons involvement in a US conference. Simpson acquired a student visa and began her journey to bring her two daughters to America. In 2009, her daughters Christine and Monica received documentation to travel and reside in the US. Simpson remarried after her husband divorced her. After her life was back on track Simpson decided to renew her childhood dream of going to college. This graduation year Simpson graduated with her LPN diploma and license and her daughters followed her example and are both on the path to becoming nurses at MCC.
The second speaker, Ashley Jagnecki, partook in Early College of Muskegon County (ECMC), in her sophomore year in high school. This program included Jagnecki taking college courses as a junior and senior and a 13th year of school at MCC. Jagnecki’s advanced courses helped her gain an internship and later a full-time job in credit services at a local financial company. Jagnecki’s main focus is entrepreneurial studies and now manages the Hollar Handyman service in Muskegon.
For those interested in joining the Garden Club this year, or just want to help out, there are several opportunities to do so. Please join the club members Monday June 8th at 7pm at the garden. The garden is located behind the white house next door to the Marquette entrance to Muskegon Community College’s main campus. The club’s adviser, Kathy Pollock, has purchased several flats of greens and other veggies since the ones started from seed did not survive.
There will also be several more upcoming opportunities to work in the garden. As the times are announced they will be posted to the Bay Window online edition. If you have any questions about meeting times or how to find the garden please contact Kathy Pollock by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also like the Garden Club Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MuskegonCommunityCollegeGardenClub.