The Campus Activities Board (CAB) hosted a spoken word performance that was “life changing,” Sophomore Culture and Diversity Executive Tyra Banks said. Natasha T. Miller, a Detroit, Michigan native, three-time Women of the World Poetry Slam finalist, author, and film producer presented her show to Gustavus students from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. this past Wednesday, March 6, 2019 in the Courtyard Café. Miller is the author of two books titled Dreams of a Beginner and Coming Out of Nowhere, which are social networking memoirs about homosexuality, religion, and cyberbullying.
Last year, CAB members attended the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) regional conference. The conference provided educational programs and services for college and university students. Miller was an emcee for a showcase and also showcased a few of her poetry pieces. “When I saw her perform at the conference, I had chills because it was so amazing,” Arts and Entertainment Executive Junior Emily Scroggins said. Scroggins noticed the people attending the conference were really engaged and invested in Miller’s stories. She also perceived the reactions of others to be impressed with Miller’s ability to use words to express complex emotions. “Miller makes you see things from a different perspective. I [was] very excited,” Banks said.
Scroggins thought it would be nice to have someone speak to the students at Gustavus about topics such as these in a different and creative way other than in a lecture setting. Miller spoke about personal experiences such as raising her nephew and captured political statements such as Black Lives Matter. CAB wants to provide students with a wide variety of events with different speakers each year while making sure to include and represent students and/or topics that are often underrepresented.
“I think it is important we have representation from different aspects and Miller represents two different aspects: being a black woman and a part of the LGBTQ community,” Banks said. Miller’s purpose is to create change and peace like many other great leaders.
This might have been the first time you have heard about Miller, or maybe you have been an active follower like Banks. Spoken word is different from traditional poetry as it relates to current issues.
“Spoken word is a very powerful medium. Words can evoke so many emotions while also addressing some pretty heavy topics,” Scroggins said.
“The spoken word piece by Miller presents the opportunity to understand what spoken word poetry is and will give a sense of encouragement by her speaking about issues we all might face in our lifetime,” Banks said.
Spoken word provided Miller the necessary resources to deal with life trials and get through the tough times of life. “Poetry is another outlet for me where I am able to navigate things like breakups and grief, and talk about being a queer black woman, and other things that are hard to navigate in the real world if you don’t have something like poetry or an outlet,” Miller said.
“Miller encompasses a lot of different things she goes through as a black woman and being a part of the LGBTQ community and just hearing her experiences and how she dealt with those obstacles will give a wide range of how to view things,” Banks said.
Miller performed a range of topics at the NACA conference and members of CAB hoped the type of issues presented in the show can really resonate with people. “I hope to learn how to process your emotions, especially for things that are out of my realm of experience, and be able to connect through words with her experience,” Scroggins said. “As CAB members, we hope people can see the intersectionality of things especially with Miller being a person of color and also in the LGBTQ community,” Scroggins said.
“Miller brought a personalized stage presence that you do not see often and I really liked her energy,” Senior Ryan Ragoonanan said. “Who I am in everyday life, I bring to the stage and I try to keep that,” Miller said.