Project S.P.I.T. brings poetry, spoken word to UCF
It may be easy to rap along to your favorite song by Nicki Minaj or Drake, but it's not so easy to spit out your own rhymes on the spot.
For UCF student poets in Project S.P.I.T., it's something that they encounter almost daily.
Project S.P.I.T. — also known as Project: Student Poetry Initiating Thought — was founded last year with an aim to create a spoken word and poetry community, as well as to raise awareness on campus in order to promote and develop creative writing.
"I thought it was going to be a club with just about 10 of us, but it's bigger than we thought it would be and it really blew up," said Shelby Birch, a junior advertising-public relations major who is also the co-founder and president of the organization.
Birch knew she wanted to create a poetry organization when she came to UCF and found out there wasn't one already in existence.
"I've been a spoken-word poet for six years and when I came to UCF, I was really excited to start poetry at a collegiate level," Birch said. "It was nonexistent [on campus] and I felt like it was my responsibility to start one."
Birch and a friend came together to brainstorm ideas and on Aug. 26, 2013, the organization's inaugural meeting was held. There have been nearly 50 members on board since then.
The meetings typically consist of welcoming new members, discussing potential event opportunities and sharing any ideas for raising club awareness in the community.
Regular events and activities include open-mic nights, community outreach and partnering up with nonprofit organizations.
Project S.P.I.T. also teams up with local campus organizations, such as CAB, to spread the word about the club to students.
As an advertising-public relations major, Birch hopes to move to New York City and become a poet mentor or public-relations representative for a youth poetry group.
"I really would love to combine poetry with my degree or just go to grad school for higher education," Birch said.
Vana Rose Dunnom, a junior international global studies major, and Matara Francis, a junior biomedical sciences major, are members of the organization's executive board. They both agree that there are many different types of poetry and it's important to know all of them, even if a person doesn't specialize in any.
"There are different types and variations of poetry, but I'm mostly into slam," Dunnom said.
Francis said that she wouldn't be into poetry if it wasn't for her family.
"I've been involved in poetry since middle school when I used to go to different events with my family and see different people perform," Francis said. "That's when I started getting involved."
The project serves as a way for people to come and express themselves while allowing the UCF community to appreciate poetry in all of its forms.
"I focus less on myself and just focus more on what I can bring to the UCF community," Birch said.
Interested members are encouraged to join the weekly meetings and visit social media pages for future events.