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  • Everyone showed up, despite it being smack dab in the middle of finals week. I was visiting my friend Jess, who brought me to a performance poetry group she'd joined this year. We sprawled on the couches in a florescent lit basement. The air crackled with good creative energy and hardly a minute went by without someone laughing. It was a room full of people who clearly loved Spoken Word and oneanother.

    “This is the first real political piece I've written,” a guy named Zach said, unfolding a handwritten page. It turned out to be a tender extended metaphor on the American Dream, lying in a hospital bed. His deftness with language made you felt like you were holding the analogy's hand, its pulse barely palpable under soft wrinkled skin. You could see the IV drip. There were snaps, the Word equivalent to applause mid-poem.

    Then, the discussion floodgates opened. Our minds were freshly Occupied, and the Providence tents weren't far from the building in which we sat. One by one, people got provoked to express their own heated views. Some of the discourse quickly wandered away from the original metaphor, but it didn't really matter. I looked around at the animated faces and heard the collage of loud, passionate voices. I scribbled on my notebook, barely able to contain my excitement.

    “The fact that we're having this conversation right now,” I finally blurted out, “is more important than anything we say within it.”

    The room buzzed. Someone disagreed. Another, clearly delighted, wanted to know who I was- it was my first time with the group. Then the discussion shifted to a matter of time. “Let's make sure people get to read their love poems, too,” said Zach generously, “even though the political talk is good.”

    So other poets read. Some on romance, others on the solitude of walking around at night in the snow. They were good, too, and new conversations happened, though I noticed the room had been more animated earlier when people discussed revolution.

    It's through the magic of poetry, I thought, that politics can become as deeply personal a subject as love.
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