Although he has developed a profound presence on campus, between working at the library and Sacred Grounds, hosting writing workshops, and participating in a poetry troupe, few people know much about the past and inner workings of SethWilson Gray. A sophomore and Creative Writing major, Gray is a testament to the uniqueness of Colorado College’s community.
Gray is from Rio Rancho, NM, a small town between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, where he has lived with his parents and sister for his entire life. Though some former city-dwelling students may find Colorado Springs to be on the small side, it is huge and sprawling compared to Gray’s hometown. “[Rio Rancho] was started by a bunch of New Yorkers for old people to live in, but instead all these young families moved in, like my parents,” Seth said, in reference to the history of his home town. Though fond of New Mexico, Gray sought out a new environment for college, and fell in love with CC. “Here everyone is near each other, and everything feels so special, and that’s like super cool to have special things. Like Paris Crêpes, like sh-t, we didn’t have crepe shops near us [in Rio Rancho], I think the closest thing to my house was a McDonalds.” This past summer Gray remained on campus for work, and grew closer to the Colorado Springs environment; he often misses his summer home and roommates.
Reflecting upon his college search, Gray felt as though he was destined to find CC. “I was super into researching colleges, the best part of my senior year was probably looking up colleges… I would spend like five hours a day,” laughed Gray. “The most important thing was that I wanted to do a creative writing track… so I found CC and then I started to look at the block plan and I was like, ‘yo only one class, that sounds so nice!’”
Gray admits, to the dismay of some of his friends, that his favorite part of CC is actually the block plan. “My favorite part is the block plan for sure. It’s really nice for working at the library and stuff… I have time for everything, work, homework, and friends.” However, Gray’s passion for the block plan hardly matches his passion for poetry.
While Gray makes time for two on-campus jobs and partying with friends, he is also an active member of CC’s poetry community. Poetry has played a fundamental role in Gray’s life; from his personality to his mental processes, everything about Gray screams “poet.” Some would go so far as to call him a “poetry prince.”
Gray began his poetry career in fourth grade, thanks to the urgings of his teacher. “Well, I started writing poetry like super long ago actually … one thing [my teacher] made us do that was different from all other classes was that we had to keep this journal, but instead of little writing pieces, we had to write poems everyday.” Originally, Gray wasn’t overly enthused by the activity, but felt a profound sense of fulfillment in the sharing of his writing. “It was so cool, everyday I got to share poems with my friends.”
From his beginnings in elementary school, Gray eventually formed a poetry team with like-minded friends in middle school. “When I was at poetry slams, the high-schoolers were like, ‘yo come hang with us,’ so I did,” laughed Gray, going on to fondly describe his high school poetry club, which he joined sophomore year. In high school, Gray competed in spoken word events on a national level, such as Poetry Out Loud, an organization that encourages students to engage with the spoken word and develop critical language skills. In fact, Gray continues to wear his Poetry Out Loud shirt about once a week.
After a phenomenal “poetry concert,” last block 8, Gray sought to revitalize the presence of poetry in his college life. “I’d really been wanting to do performances again because Open Mic was really all there was, but sometimes it’s more fun to do poetry in a poetry setting.”
More than ever before, Gray finds himself entrenched in the poetry community on campus as a member of SpeakEasy, a spoken word group that performs at the end of every block.
In addition to his involvement in SpeakEasy, Gray has begun hosting Poetry Workshops every second Wednesday at Sacred Grounds.
Gray hopes to provide students with a chance to have fun and engage with the written word by providing prompts and guidance for formulating poems. “I like the SpeakEasy troupe, but writing poetry with as many people as possible is more fun, I think.” So far, Gray’s workshops have had immense success.
Although Gray’s poetry career could have ended after the fourth grade, he has continued on, drawn to the unique society and the possibility for creative expression poetry affords. “It was mostly the appeal of the community, with the ability to express yourself—that was really cool. Every single time you wanted to talk about something you were frustrated with or even just about a funny word, you could just rhyme and play with it and make language sound pretty and more interesting than it is,” explained Gray, smiling fondly as he spoke. “Cause I don’t know, English is cool, but it usually sounds really cookie-cutter and weird… it feels like a cut and paste language, but poetry makes language more fun.” Gray added that he has become more critical of the English language since beginning his second block of French, though he still loves to write nonetheless.
When asked about plans for the future, Gray responded, “If I could do anything, I would publish a book. That’s like the coolest thing ever to do. It’s something I’ve wanted to do forever, too… it’d be super chill. Super chill! You can f- ckin’ quote me on that!” Gray laughed. “Also, tell people I used to have a really high average in bowling!”