BY ERIN LAUGHLIN
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
The Alaska Airlines Student Concert Series at UAS presented Ebony Stewart, Slam Poet, a captivating performance utilizing her personal experiences as resources to address issues like sexual health, body image, and self-esteem.
In her solo performance, Stewart invited the audience into her art, creating an environment of friendship and acceptance. The Feb. 3 event was a special performance by the Student Activities Board in partnership with Alaska Airlines at the Recreation Center.
Austin, Texas-based Stewart started writing at the early age of eight years old, which transformed over time from journaling to poetry to spoken word and now the performances that students attend across the nation.
Ebony Stewart describes herself as a “puzzle-piece” poet, saving lines or words when they come to mind so when a poem is ready then she can go back and piece all her lines together. Her memorization process is an organic gathering from pen to paper, “While I’m writing it, I’m also trying to memorize it, while I’m memorizing I am also trying to figure out how it will sound, and to add moments where I can be personable, and to allow audience interaction.”
In her Feb. 3 performance Stewart crafted an intimate experience for an audience of roughly 50 UAS students and community members. Her works performed included “Box”, “How To Properly Flirt With Someone You’re Attracted To & Want To Be Yo Boo”, and “Fear.”
Inspiration takes many forms for the poet from family members, her time as a Sexual Health educator, to other artists such as Ntozake Shange, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, and James Baldwin.
Stewart reveals her hopes for what audiences take away from her performances, “I want them to take away joy, compassion, togetherness, we are relatable, we are so much more alike than we are different, I am hoping they are empowered, I hope they are a little less afraid.”
Student Activities Director Tara Olson says choosing performances like Stewart’s takes meticulous planning in a yearlong process.
“Staff members travel to the National Association for Campus Activities conference where hundreds of musicians, poets, and comedians perform, and then they bring back their recommendations for the SAB.”
The Alaska Airlines partnership with the UAS Activities Board started three years ago, giving life to the Concert Series. Alaska Airlines provides UAS 15 flight vouchers to be used on selected performers, allowing the campus to keep the event total cost very low. The performances are always free to students, and the community.
The audience’s reaction and applause after Ebony Stewart’s spellbinding performance clearly portrayed emotions of community unity and empowerment. UAS students who attended the event definitely left having a greater appreciation for the UAS Activities Board for hosting such an inspirational event
When asked if Stewart had any advice for UAS aspiring poets Stewart says, “Start with what you know, write what you know first, don’t worry about telling anyone else’s story, tell your own story.”
For more information on Ebony Stewart’s work visit her website http://www.ebpoetry.com.
The Alaska Airlines Student Concert Series is partnered with UAS Student Activities Board for more questions and information contact Student Activities Director Tara Olson by phone 907-796-6325 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.