The Poets of SpeakEasy: Reflections on Performing Poetry by Linnie Cole ’21 and Eliza Granger ’20

By Isobel Steenrod

SpeakEasy is Colorado College’s student run spoken word poetry group. Poets perform every block, and the group hosts guest poets throughout the year as well. SpeakEasy performances are deeply moving and allow space for conversation about topics that are otherwise hard to talk about. The poets work hard to craft their pieces and strive to share a meaningful part of themselves with the CC community. I spoke with co-chair Linnie Cole ’21 and Eliza Granger ’20, a senior member, about their experiences as SpeakEasy poets.

“My favorite part about performing is getting feedback from an audience ­­— that’s pretty cool,” Granger said. “You never really know how an audience is going to react until you’re up there performing. That whole audience–performer dynamic is really fun.”

Equally important to SpeakEasy members is the community relationship forged with one another through the creative process. When talking about the group, Cole said, “The act of meeting with a group of people twice a week and sharing your writing is an incredibly vulnerable one, but it yields a sense of intimacy that I have a difficult time finding in other places.”

“No matter what style of writing you champion or what themes you focus on, there is a place to be genuinely heard and a launching pad for the writing to be shared on a larger scale,” Cole said. “In that way, the cycle of profound vulnerability can continue to a wider audience, and this shared intimacy expands.”

Poets arrive at SpeakEasy by different routes. “I think it started as a creative writing situation, and then it morphed into poetry when I heard about SpeakEasy and started doing workshops,” Granger explained. “Hearing people play with words vocally was really interesting to me because you can do a lot with a word when it’s off the paper, like intonation.”

Cole started spoken word because she “had so much written poetry but no vessel to get it out into the world.” Cole was too nervous to perform until her sophomore year, when she joined SpeakEasy and began to present her work regularly.

I asked Granger if she ever has stage fright. “I am only nervous for the first five seconds of a piece,” Granger responded. After she gets started, it just flows, as long as she has rehearsed enough.

Granger’s favorite poem that she’s performed is one called “Me and All My Ladies.” Describing it, she said, “It was spurred from this guy being such a douchebag to one of my friends, and I wrote it as a slam piece against [him]. When I performed it, I was so angry, but also passionate and felt like the poem really did what I wanted in terms of conveying all those conflicting emotions.”

Granger finished our chat with a cheer. “Go SpeakEasy!”

Keep an eye out for news about SpeakEasy’s first performance of the year.

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