MSA Poetry Night emphasizes compassion, empathy

By Joseph Volpe

From children dealing with anxiety to gun control, no topic was off limits at the Muslim Students’ Association’s Poetry Night the evening of Wednesday, April 4. Seven original poems were read in front of a small, yet excited audience in the Library Auditorium.

Student poets tackle controversial topics like Israeli-Palestinian violence and gun control. (Meagan McDowell / Photo Editor)
Student poets tackle controversial topics like Israeli-Palestinian violence and gun control. (Meagan McDowell / Photo Editor)

This year, the annual event was compassion and empathy themed. Each poem was accompanied by a single projected picture that represented the essence of each poem.

As the first of several events planned for Islam Awareness Month, the poetry reading was designed to spread awareness of the Muslim faith throughout the campus community.

“I thought the event was very unique, and it was fun to hear other people’s experiences and thoughts on certain topics and issues,” said Danielle Ziering, a junior mathematics major.

As students slowly gathered in the Library Auditorium, 14 MSA members worked feverishly to set up the microphone, computer and projector with the library staff by the scheduled start time. The event began fifteen minutes late due to technical difficulties, but audience members could see that the club was diligently working to put on a memorable show, and patiently waited in their seats.

The first poem, “Gaza,” focused on the violence and bloodshed between Palestinians and Israelis in the Gaza Strip. Saif Hasan, a senior public health and exercise science double major, read the somber piece aloud.

The piece — born out of anger and frustration — exemplified how there was a lack of compassion on either side of the conflict. Despite the nature of the subject, Hasan left the audience with some hope with the final line.

“Because it doesn’t matter what you say,” Hasan read at the finalé of his poem, “Because I know we will have peace someday.”

Amaly Elmenshawy, the public relations chair of MSA, read a poem titled “I Have Seen.” The junior elementary education major based the piece off an experience while student teaching.

The poem focuses on the everyday anxiety that children experience both in and out of school. The poem ends beautifully with a call for unity, so that both children and their mentors can combat the anxiety many children face, together.

The longest poem of the evening was an untitled piece read by Nawal Mubin. This poem focused on the controversial topic of gun control.

The poem reasoned that children should not have to live in fear of being slaughtered, and instead should be able to live and show compassion and empathy to one another. It was a call to arms for U.S. citizens to demand stricter gun control laws.

When Mubin finished reading her piece, audience members enthusiastically clapped and spent time discussing the topic after the event.

Once the poetry reading concluded, attendees enjoyed free refreshments and snacks, capping off a successful event for the club.

“I think that it was a success because we were able to reach more people than just us,” Elmenshawy said. “We recorded all of the poems and will be actively posting them on our social media for people who may have missed it. And in the end, we feel that if one person was touched by the words said, then that is a success. As cliché as it sounds, I think the conversation we had afterwards as a group forged more friendships and connections then we could have hoped for.”

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