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Life > Experiences

Using the Power of Words: Gwen Baxley

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rutgers chapter.

“Poetry is a manifestation of who I am as a person; it states a lot without saying much at all” Gwen Baxley, sophomore at Rutgers and founder of JC Poetry Slam said.  It is hard to believe that only a few years ago, Gwen hated everything about poetry and now she admits that it is something so powerful, it can define her. In response to Governor Christie’s budget cuts in education, Gwen established the JC Youth Poetry Slam in May 2010 for students in Jersey City. This event was designed to provide a free after-school outlet for the students as an alternative to school programs that would potentially be cut due to the budget cuts. The program consisted of poetry workshops and stressed the importance of sports and after-school activities in New Jersey. “The workshops are vital to the development of youth. It not only provides an outlet, it also provides a safe place for liberation. Youth are constantly restricted in speech, expression, curiosity, creativity, mobility and growth” Gwen said. A passionate believer in reaching out to others with the power of words, Gwen is also involved with Rutgers’ only weekly open mic group, Verbal Mayhem. While the written word and poetry is not only fun and exciting to listen to, Gwen also stresses that it can act as a therapy. “Poetry is vital in social-emotional development. You are not only gaining self awareness when you put that pen to paper, you are also gaining self-management because you are learning to regulate emotions, social awareness because poets are rebels and activists that scrutinize the world, government, policies, injustices and relationship skills, especially in communities like JC Slam. It is self-therapy for all because everyone has an experience, good or bad, to share,” she said. While powerful prose may define this proactive activist’s passions, no words can define the constructive atmosphere she is building for younger generations.

Keep reading to check out one of Gwen’s original poems and a YouTube clip of her performing as she advocates for Verbal Mayhem:

Woman’s Worth

They told lies when they said beauty is in the Beholder’s Eyes.

I am no one’s picture framed prisoner poorly pocketed in wallets, withering away, too close to sweat glands smelling of groin.

Fresh air only coming with Old Judgments