Poets Should Come Ready to Move/Yell/Play/Discover

February 2, 2022
Aminah Aliu

"...Writing and performing our way towards a deeper understanding of ourselves as spoken word poets, we will collaboratively work our way towards a final public performance and, hopefully, the tools to better move the crowds we face, which are the tools to change the world one poem at a time."

When I saw the description for this course, Spoken Word Poetics taught by award-winning poet Danez Smith, I just had to apply!

In December 2021, the last month of fall semester, I participated in course selection, a process where students of each grade level take turns signing up for the classes they want to take the following semester. There are lots of classes to choose from, everything from an Introduction to Entrepreneurship to Songwriting; some classes require an application or permission to register, but many (if not most) classes don’t. 

Course selection naturally tends to be more of an emotionally turbulent time for everyone, as people scramble to explore all of Princeton’s courses, narrow down their course lists, and resolve any scheduling conflicts. I try to make the process as fun as possible, though, by exploring my academic curiosities and looking for classes that sounded exciting and engaging. 

One of the topics I wanted to explore academically was creative writing. Princeton’s Program in Creative Writing provides a wide range of classes taught by well-respected writers. Many of these classes require applications. While the Program currently seeks to become more inclusive and supportive of writers of all skill levels, I’d encourage you not to begin hyperventilating because of the word “application,” because the application for most of the intro classes does not ask for any writing samples. 

For some background on my interest in creative writing, I’ve been writing poetry since middle school. I began writing, hilariously enough, because my best friend started playing club volleyball and I could no longer hang out with her as much afterschool. Fun fact: I wrote one of my college essays about the first open mic I performed at! How meta, writing about writing!

That being said, I believe any student can submit a compelling application, especially with the help of resources like the Writing Center. If I didn’t at least try to apply, I wouldn’t be here today telling you about how excited I am to take this course! 

At the end of the day, if you’re interested in creative writing classes at Princeton, don’t let applications scare you! I applied to Spoken Word Poetics because, ironically, I am terrified of performing my poetry in front of other people and actually have them *listen* and *hear* me. 

Regardless, I hope that this class can provide me with the space to begin facing some of that fear, and become more confident in my words. Are there any academic curiosities you’ve always wanted to explore, or fears you’re ready to face? I’d love to know!