An award-winning spoken word poet is the latest guest to visit campus and give the students insight into the life and creative process of a working artist.
From April 11 to 13, Anis Mojgani came to Williston to perform and work with students (see photos here).
Mojgani is a two-time National Poetry Slam Champion, winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, and multiple-time Tedx Speaker. He has performed at numerous universities, festivals, and venues around the globe and has performed for audiences as varied as the House of Blues and the United Nations.
His website, thepianofarm.com, showcases videos of many of Mojgani’s most well-known poems, including “Come Closer,” “Shake the Dust," and “Sock Hop,” the latter two of which he performed at an event in the chapel open to students on Friday night. His newest book, In the Pocket of Small Gods, came out April 2.
Mojgani, who lives in Portland, Oregon, was on campus to work with English and Directing classes. Students in these classes had been preparing for his arrival by reading, watching, and reciting spoken word poems.
Emily Ditkovski, Williston’s Theatre Director, sees the importance of having visiting artists such as Mojgani come to Williston.
“I think students will get a new appreciation for the power of spoken word poetry and its power to connect us and make people think,” Ditkovski said. “While the approach to spoken word can differ from acting, there are many crossover skills that are very useful. And poetry certainly has a place in the theater.”
Williston hosted Mojgani as part of the Grum project, Williston’s visiting artist program funded by an alumna donor. Natania Hume, Head of the Arts Department, finds the Grum Project to be vitally important to Williston arts.
“It has allowed us to bring the art world to our school,” she said. “We study the arts in our classes, but having practicing and professional artists come here and share their crafts with us makes the manifestations of what we teach tangible.”
“It also allows us to experience art forms and cultures that we would not otherwise be aware of and enhances our arts programs by connecting the real arts world to our school in new and exciting ways,” she added. “The Grum project also enables us to appreciate how interconnected the arts are to all academic subjects and in life everywhere around the globe.”
The Willistonian spent some time in Mojgani’s class with Sarah Sawyer, during which the poet described his creative process, what it takes to prepare a poem for performance, and how he commits his poems to memory.
“If you have a personal relationship with the words you’re saying it is easy to memorize the poem,” Mojgani explained.
About the process of crafting his poems, Mojgani explained that he starts with an idea, or a phrase, or an image, and then, “I add bits and pieces together until it starts getting larger and larger.”