It’s only Sara Cuadra Aruguete’s second semester here at Miami University, but she has already earned the title of Campus Celeb. This biology/pre-med major has a lot on her plate when it comes to academics, but she also makes time for a plethora of extracurricular activities outside of the classroom. Sara is the president and founder of SPEAK, Miami’s very first Spoken Word club. For those of you who don’t know, Spoken Word is a form of poetry that is less about writing and more about performing. It takes traditional poetry and makes it exciting and theatrical. To learn more about SPEAK and the amazing girl leading this new student organization, take a look at our interview with Sara!
HC: What inspired you to start SPEAK?
SCA: Well I did it in high school for a little bit and when I saw that there wasn’t a Spoken Word club here at Miami, I saw it as an opportunity.
HC: What attracted you to Spoken Word in high school?
SCA: I never really considered myself a writer, but I was curious about what the club in my high school was like. When I went to my first Spoken Word performance, LOUDER THAN A BOMB, I was blown away. It was so much fun and I knew that I wanted to stick with it.
HC: How did you prepare for the performances?
SCA: The first, and most important step, was to write about something that I felt passionate about. Writing the poem is just the half of it, though. I spent a lot of time memorizing and reciting it to myself. I learned that what I write isn’t the most important part. The key to being good at Spoken Word is the performance.
HC: Were you ever nervous to share your poetry with an audience?
SCA: Absolutely. I think that, whenever you write something, you obviously put a lot of time and thought into it; it’s personal. For me, there will always be a little bit of fear attached to sharing something personal with people. But when I do, and people laugh and react, I feel more confident and more comfortable on stage.
HC: You said that your first step is to write about something that you are passionate about. Do you have a piece that you are particularly fond of?
SCA: I wrote a satire on smoking that I had to perform in front of an enormous crowd. I had never done anything like it before; it was actually the first poem I had ever performed. The audience seemed to like it, though, and I had a lot of fun.
HC: Did you have a hard time getting SPEAK started here at Miami?
SCA: Yeah. I was kind of late in establishing the club, so I didn’t have Mega Fair to attract the initial crowd. I’m also not very good with social media and I rely heavily on fliers, which aren’t super effective because our campus is so big and there is always so much going on. This is the first club that I’ve been in charge of, so I’m still trying to figure out how it all works. I’m learning a lot!
HC: What exactly do you do at a typical SPEAK meeting?
SCA: Well we meet once a week, and before every meeting I send out a prompt to give people inspiration and get them thinking. We always start with an icebreaker before we get into writing. I give them several minutes to work, either on the prompt I sent out or on an idea they came up with, and then we break up into groups of two and share our poems. We give each other feedback and then we write for a few more minutes. Sometimes, we’ll look at videos of other Spoken Word performances and, at the end, I allow time for volunteers to read their poems to the whole group for practice.
HC: What do you enjoy most about SPEAK?
SCA: I love hearing other people’s writing styles and their poetry because it’s all so unique.
HC: In what ways are you looking to expand SPEAK in the coming years?
SCA: I’m hoping to have an ongoing open mic session somewhere on campus so that members of the club and people from Oxford can perform their poetry. It would also be nice if we could join forces with other schools and compete against each other a few times a semester.
HC: What is one thing that a lot of people don’t know about you?
SCA: I’ve been playing hockey since I was four. I started because my brother was playing at the time and I thought it was really cool. I play drop-in hockey here once a week, but I hope that I can spend more time on the ice once I start intramurals this spring. I’m a defenseman.
HC: It sounds like you are really making the most of your time at Miami. What are some other things you hope to accomplish before you graduate?
SCA: I want to be able to do research in the lab for biology; I think that that would be a really good experience. I also want to make SPEAK something that people know about and want to be a part of. I’ve always enjoyed Spoken Word and I want other people to have fun with it too. Ultimately, I hope to graduate in good academic standing and be accepted into medical school.