Poet Inspires Campus Club, Performances


Mikhail Vasilyev, Staff Writer

Junior Athya Uthayakumar has been an avid poet since eighth grade. Now she heads the Poetry Club, writes about 3 to 4 poems a week, and participates in youth poetry slams in the East Bay.

“She’s a phenomenal writer,” said Librarian and Poetry Club adviser Sarah Morgan. “What makes her stand out is that she doesn’t title her poems, she just calls them the date that she writes them on.”

While forgoing titles in favor of dates may be an uncommon practice, it helps Uthayakumar track her growth as a writer. To Uthayakumar, it’s the perfect way to catalog her progress.

“In eighth grade, I was writing about how I wanted people to value me more. I was pretty insecure back then. As I grew older I started writing more about responsibility and being honest with others and myself, while also exploring labels and identities that are specific to me, and just about things that are going on around me,” said Uthayakumar.

Using dates as a method of titling helps her reflect on the progression of her thoughts.

Uthayakumar mostly writes in free verse because she believes that it gives her more freedom. “Mostly I just write in my own style, which consists of a lot of line breaks because I think the way that you break up the lines really matters,” she said.

Uthayakumar also writes slam poetry, where she loves to rhyme and enjoys incorporating other musical elements.

Uthayakumar is typical inspired to write poetry from personal events. “I’ve learned to take what I’m dealing with, and if I really feel like I need to write it down, I do. Sometimes I go in, knowing what I’m going to write about, but usually, I figure it out along the way,” she explained.

Writing has helped Uthayakumar open up about her life, and generally release stress. “When I write, it’s really satisfying.”

According to Morgan, Uthayakumar coordinated and hosted Campolindo’s first poetry slam in the spring of 2016. “This was really innovative because it had never happened before and Athya did a good job hosting it,” said Morgan.

Through the Poetry Slam, Uthayakumar brought the Poetry Club more recognition and created a chance for other club members to reading their poetry to an audience.

She plans to host a poetry slam again this year and hopes to send a team of 4 to 6 people to attend a Youth Speaks poetry slam in the East Bay. “These slams aren’t about winning. They’re more about learning than competing and are one of the best ways to grow as a writer,” said Uthayakumar.

Uthayakumar plans to continue writing and participating in poetry slams in college and also hopes to one day publish a book of poems.