It was virtual but it was real: the recent SpeakEasy spoken-word and open mic lounge at Hamilton was a reunion of creativity and affirmation for poet Terri Moise ’17, who, as an alum, returns to campus semester after semester to support the event.
Marking its 10th anniversary in October, SpeakEasy is a tradition of the Feminists of Color Collective, and Moise was part of both while he was a student. In the midst of the pandemic, SpeakEasy proceeded via Zoom, with Moise, as usual, a part of it. He performed and co-led a workshop with students the day before the event. In his estimation, even remotely, SpeakEasy lived up to its creative, supportive history.
“We still had fantastic attendance, we still had people coming in all throughout; people were signing up in the middle of SpeakEasy to perform. And it was really lovely, because you could see on their faces just how much joy they were getting from sharing, and how much of a release it was for them to be able to have this space to speak freely,” Moise said.
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As a student he was a leader of the Feminist of Color Collective, serving at one point as executive chair, and he remembers how the group work to expand SpeakEasy.
“For a lot of people, and especially a lot of students of color, Hamilton typically tends to be a bit of a foreign place and a bit difficult to navigate sometimes. SpeakEasy allowed individuals a place to come enjoy themselves, be themselves, and let their artistry flow. The first time that I ever performed at an open mic, was at my first SpeakEasy freshman year,” said Moise, an Africana studies major. He was also editor-in-chief of the student publication Grasping Roots.
Now living in Brooklyn, N.Y., and working in sales at the financial technology company, Better.com, Moise writes poetry and short stories and performs at spoken-word poetry open mics. Being part of SpeakEasy continues to inspire him.
“It's been several years since I've graduated, and FCC and SpeakEasy are still going on very, very strongly. They're still doing such good work. So it's inspiring to me to see something that, the way I look at it, I laid parts of the foundation. The people on campus have continued to grow it in such a way that it's becoming even better than I could have ever imagined it to be,” he said.