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The exterior of Jackie O's Pub and Brewery on West Union Street. (FILE)

Poetry event aims to create conversation on gender and inclusion

A free celebration of spoken word will examine gender-related topics and acceptance Wednesday at Jackie O's Public House & Brewpub.

#SpeakUpWoMEN will feature about 30 poets from Appalachian regions and the Spanish and English departments at Ohio University presenting their work. Athens poet laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour will present her work as well. Additionally, Athens Mayor Steve Patterson and his wife, Connie will each read a short poem.

Claudia Cisneros, a graduate student studying communication and development studies and journalism, is organizing #SpeakUpWoMEN with her friend Violeta Orozco. She said she wants people, especially men, to join the conversation that has taken over the world in regards to feminism and new masculinities. 

She said it is important for men to start talking among themselves about healthy masculinity. 

“I feel that if we don’t make men participate in this new approach of roles and lives, then we’re going to fail,” Cisneros said. 

Cisneros said the event symbolizes men, women and all other genders coming together in the fight for change in the world. 

“I think we have to stand up and speak up, and not remain silent,” she said. 

The event mainly focuses on poetry, as Cisneros wants to appeal to attendees with words. She said poetry is a vehicle to display the freedom women and men have to build a better society. 

“There’s a lot of things men need to begin to understand about their masculinities,” she said. “They need to understand women being people, before being women, and to respect them as such.”

Cisneros decided to organize the event because she was in an abusive relationship and said it woke up the feminist in her. She now wants to do things for other women so they don’t endure physical or psychological violence. 

“I want people to feel safe,” she said. “We want to create this environment where women can feel safe about speaking up, even if it’s anonymously at the beginning.”

Gunter-Seymour, an adjunct professor of journalism, said she is impressed with Cisneros and Orozco for organizing the event quickly. 

She is excited for the event to take place and is looking forward to the honor of speaking up for human rights and tolerance of all people regardless of ethnicity.

“I think I love the new environment that is coming into existence, particularly for the spoken arts,” she said. “I love the idea of both Ohio University and the community working hard to provide opportunities for all.”

Taylor Bowling, manager and bartender at Jackie O's Public House & Brewpub, said Jackie O's likes to stay connected within the university and beyond.  

“We do care about the different issues or the issues that many of the groups that come here to have events are working toward,” Bowling said. “We want to make this community as inclusive as possible.”

Jackie O's is hoping to reach out to as many different groups as possible through the event.

“I hope everyone comes out to the event,” Bowling said. 


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