by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Before she set foot on campus, Brittany Barker ’15 (English) was helping to shape the class of 2015's multidimensional arts scene. Now, as she prepares to graduate, her passion for poetry and personal expression lives on in Exiled, a spoken-word poetry group that reached new heights during its spring 2015 performance.
Exiled's story begins on Facebook, during the summer before Barker’s freshman year at Dickinson. A fellow Posse scholar, Juliani Acosta ’13 (American studies), had learned that Barker had won a prestigious spoken-word poetry competition, and he messaged her to chat about their shared interest in performance poetry.
“We generated ideas and thought it would be cool to form a group,” says Barker, who sought out fellow budding poets during her first weeks on campus. One of the first was Fabian Hernandez (American studies), a fellow first-year with talents in writing, performance and visual art.
Dickinson poets Michele St. Julien '14 (sociology) and David Cruz '13 (earth sciences) came on board soon after, and the quartet officially founded the group during the spring semester of 2011. Four years later, the Exiled Poetry Society is 10 members strong and growing, providing a safe space for its writer-performers to find, shape and express their writerly voices.
Exiled's latest performance, titled "Collective Unmasking," was its most ambitious to date. Whereas previous shows were presented in traditional spoken-word style—in a black-box space, with no formal direction or stagecraft—Exiled members worked with theatre & dance faculty members this year to present a fully staged work in Mathers Theatre, with lighting design by Anastasia Putri ’16 (theatre arts, anthropology), sending their two youngest founders off in style.
“It really showed how far off the ground we’ve flown,” says Hernandez, who recalls the society's hatchling days with pride. "It's bittersweet to know that Brittany and I won't be on campus to see the group [continue to] grow, but it's the nature of the beast. You nourish it until it’s ready to fly on its own."
Published May 5, 2015