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“Write your soul
As if it were to leave your body
Gather a selfish rage
Bleed ink.
Give yourself
To the emptiness of the page…”

These words come from Hostos Community College student Dalia Tapia, whose poem, Write Your Soul, won 3rd Place at the Hostos English Club’s 10th Annual Celebration of Student Poets. In essence, it sums up a day in which students’ poetic works were recited, appreciated, and celebrated.

The year’s celebration was held on November 8 in the Savoy Manor Multipurpose Room. The first of these annual events took place in 2002. Having been established in 1998, the English Club had already created a similar event, the Dramatic Reading Contest, at which students presented works by other writers. Longtime Hostos Associate Professor Maya Sharma said the Annual Celebration of Student Poets provides a forum for students to share their original poems. “We wanted to give students an opportunity to write and recite their own works to show the talent we have at Hostos. It started with about five students and has grown larger each year. It has been a wonderfully successful event.”
Several Hostos faculty members joined members of the administration and others for the readings.  Whether the poems were read from the page or recited from memory, they all allowed the participants to express their emotions, thoughts and feelings.

CheeChee Bourne’s poem, Black Uhuru- Uhuru Ni Nyumbani- Black Freedom- Freedom Is Home, took the 1st Place prize. CheeChee said this work was partly inspired by Harriet Tubman, the famed former slave who became an abolitionist and humanitarian hero.
Rachel Egbeyan Eromosele’s piece, Deeply Human, was an ode to a favorite classmate, and she spoke it from memory.

Nazmul Hussain told the crowd that he was a fledgling poet and this event was a first for him. His poem, Stand Up For I, was a testament to making positive life choices.
Highlighting the diversity at Hostos, not every poem was recited in English. Julissa Miranda performed her work, I am as woman as any woman can be, twice—once in English and again in her native Spanish.

The President of the English Club, Ameena Johnson, organized the event with the help of Professors Sharma and Hutchins of the English Department. Ameena, who is in the Aging Health Studies Program, joined the English Club in 2010. A self-described “older student,” Ameena said she joined the English Club because it appealed her and she wanted to become more involved with what was happening on campus. Ameena won 1st Place last spring for her dramatic reading of Sonya Renee’s, What Women Deserve.

The event was also attended by Christine Mangino, the Associate Dean of the Division of Academic Affairs at Hostos. Dean Mangino read a poem entitled Be Thankful For and praised the creativity and bravery of the students who read their own work to a large audience.

Professor Emeritus Brijraj Singh, a former chair of the English Department, returned to Hostos to hear a new generation of poets. Having been involved with the event for years, he called the students “the best part of the college” and credited Professor Sharma and others for “planting the seed for the Annual Celebration of Student Poets that has blossomed into a fine tree.”

About The Hostos English Club:
The Hostos English Club is a student-run club open to the campus community.  It holds social and cultural activities throughout the academic year and sponsors the annual Student Dramatic Reading Contest in the spring and Celebration of Student Poets in the fall.

About Hostos Community College:
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, part of The City University of New York (CUNY) system, was founded in 1968.  In addition to associate degree programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions, Hostos also has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development that offers courses for professional development and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. In four decades, Hostos has grown from a class of 623 in 1970 to over 7,000 students in 2012. The College also serves an additional 12,000 students through its Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development. For more news and stories about Hostos Community College, visit www.hostos.cuny.edu.

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