Spoken Word Artist Tackles Contemporary Topics Through Poetry

Spoken word poet Lauren Zuniga brought her unique performance style to Ramapo for this week’s Tuesday Night Live. An intimate crowd gathered at Friends Hall to enjoy the night of poetry.

Spoken word poetry is a quick and free flowing form of poetry that originated during the Harlem Renaissance.Often inspired by current events, it is usually spoken in first person and used to communicate some type of activisim. Zuniga brought this form of social commentary to Ramapo, adding an interesting act to the TNL repertoire.

The show opened with singer-songwriter Ashley Wood, a senior at Ramapo College. Wood performed an original song as well as a few covers.

“I’m a singer-songwriter. I write my own stuff but it’s not as popular, so I usually just do covers with my acoustic guitar,” Wood said.

Among her covers were “Your Love is My Drug” by Ke$ha, “The Rhythm of Love” by the Plain White T’s, “Buy You a Drank” by T-Pain, and “Wonderwall” by Oasis.

Wood has done numerous other performances, including some at Ramapo, and enjoys the chance to perform alone at TNL.

“I’ve played a couple different things at Ramapo before,” Wood said. “I’ve done talent shows. I’ve played for benefits. I do duets and trios sometimes, but it’s always fun to do my own thing.”

After performing, Wood was looking forward to some poetry herself, after being previously introduced to spoken word poetry at Ramapo.

“I wasn’t really into spoken word until I came to Ramapo and I heard a bunch of really awesome people,” Wood said.

Zuniga took the stage after Wood to begin her performance.

Zuniga is one of the top five ranked female poets in the world. She started out as a rapper until she attended a poetry slam and discovered spoken word poetry. Since then she has become a touring poet and a teaching artist. Zuniga has also recently published a book called “The Smell of Good Mud.”

Zuniga covered a variety of topics in her fast talking, rhythmic performance.  Through her poetry she discussed things like social taboos, love, women as viewed by society and abortion. She also read a passage from her new book.

Zuniga’s performance was not the first time many Ramapo students have experienced spoken word poetry. Senior Kaitlin Kraft was introduced to it last year at a talent show.

“I heard people do spoken word at some of the talent shows last year so I was interested in coming out tonight,” Kraft said. “I like the rhythm that they have.”

Senior Jonathan Lopes also discovered the creativity of spoken word at a Ramapo event.

“I’ve been to some of the events last year like After Dark, which had spoken word poets. The creativity behind it really interested me,” Lopes said.

Other than being interested in spoken word poetry, Lopes also was drawn to the performance simply because it was a Tuesday Night Live show.

“I think the CPB’s Tuesday Night Lives are the best thing on campus,” Lopes said.

At the end of her performance, Zuniga asked the audience if anyone identified themselves as an artist.  A few people raised their hands and she talked about how difficult making art can be and the need for creativity in one’s life.  She left the crowd with this piece of advice:

“It doesn’t get any easier and we still need to support each other.  You should make art every day.”