“It’s really weird for me to think of myself as a poet,” Western senior Daniel Espinoza-Gonzalez said.

Espinoza-Gonzalez will be one of the featured poets when Associated Students Productions Special Events presents “Speak Now: An evening of spoken word poetry.”

The event takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15, in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room. Tickets are available at the Performing Arts Center Box Office. They cost $4 with a Western ID, and $7 without. Doors open at 7 p.m.

“Speak Now” features Anis Mojgani, a two-time National Poetry Slam champion, and Jared Paul, a two-time Individual World Poetry Slam finalist. Student poets Y-Not and Christian Tautua will also perform.

The event encourages any type of vocal expression, Espinoza-Gonzalez said.

It is important to take pride in our expression, especially voice, and to understand that these performers are all coming together from different backgrounds and experiences, he said.

“We’re coming together to encourage spoken word poetry as a form of expression that not only shows the expression of the individual, but can have so much beauty in the power of words and the way it’s depicted on stage when it’s performed,” Espinoza-Gonzalez said.

Spoken-word poetry, also known as slam poetry, is somewhat hard to describe, said Jordan Renshaw, Special Events coordinator.
Typical poetry is thought of as rhyming, structured syllables and rhyme schemes, but spoken-word poetry can be fast or slow, almost rap-like, Renshaw said.

“Sometimes it can come out like hip-hop, other times it can come out as observations and musings,” Renshaw said. “But anyway you experience it, it’s so genuine and unconstrained. There’s no structure to the poet form, so it’s a great way to express yourself, and it’s different from poet to poet.”

Mojgani and Paul have both been featured at Western before, Renshaw said.

Mojgani was a part of the Night Kite Revival tour that came to Western last year. He was also recently featured in the Heavy and Light, an event put on by the group To Write Love On Her Arms.

Paul was featured at the Underground Coffeehouse a few years back. He loved Bellingham when he was here and is excited to come back, Renshaw said.

Espinoza-Gonzalez, an English literature major with a Fairhaven concentration titled “Understanding Identity and Gaining Self-Empowerment Through Creative Writing,” began writing when he was younger, influenced by his older sister and her friends who had been doing some spoken poetry at a conference.

“I was so intrigued. I didn’t know what it was,” Espinoza-Gonzalez said. “I didn’t know that form of expression existed, so to me it was very mysterious, and I liked it.”

After that experience, Espinoza-Gonzalez started writing, drawing and finding different forms of expression.

In college, he went through a couple of bad experiences but found comfort in writing, he said.

“My writing somewhat healed me, and it was my space to get out everything I needed to get out,” Espinoza-Gonzalez said. “And that continues to this day.”

Tautua, a Western junior, has been writing ever since a teacher once showed him a video of slam poetry a few years back. He did not think much of it until he got older, Tautua said.

“I picked up a pencil and started writing because of what I was going through in my life,” Tautua said. “I just kept writing, and people started liking what I was saying.”

Spoken word poetry has been an outlet of expression for these students, and their talents will be showcased alongside others who embrace the art form.

“If you’re a Western student and just want to be completely blown away by the power of words and the way it can be expressed on stage, come to this event,” Espinoza-Gonzalez said.