Poets Theresa Davis and Shyla Hardwick slam for unity at CSU

Hannah Ditzenberger

As young poet Shyla Hardwick walked to the microphone, the audience grew quiet. Her passionate, steady voice echoed across the dimly lit room.

“I have a fear of stepping on worms,” Hardwick said. “This is called scoleciphobia. I do not know if I’m more afraid of stepping on them or them stepping on me. Either way, I am afraid.”  


Like her piece “Worms,” all of Hardwick’s poems elicited tears, laughter and silence from her Colorado State University audience Wednesday in the Lory Student Center Theatre. She presented with Theresa Davis, the 2012 Emerging Artist and the 2011 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion.

Their tour, the Huemyn Project, introduced GLBTQQA history month to CSU. However, the mission of their work goes beyond this. They aim to express common human experiences through the spoken word.

Davis and Hardwick
At the Huemyn Project, Shyla Hardwick listens to Theresa Davis present her poem Wednesday in the Lory Student Center Theater. (Photo Credit: Hannah Ditzenberger)

“As artists it’s very important for us to be able to connect to other people,” Davis said. “The more we connect, we realize that we’re more alike than we are different.”

Through their poetry, the artists addressed topics ranging from romantic love to absent fathers. After the presentation, audience members asked the women questions about their work and personal lives.

Norka Veliz, a second year biology major, said she related to the emotions expressed at the event.

“The best part about slam poetry is that you can feel a lot of things at once,” Veliz said. “You can laugh but get really serious at the same time … Mostly, though, I felt enlightened, just because there are so many things that you aren’t exposed to, and it’s awesome to hear another perspective.”

Veliz felt that the event was an appropriate introduction for GLBTQQA history month.

Shayla Hardwick smiles as she introduces her poetry in the Lory Student Center Theater on October 1. (Photo Credits: Hannah Ditzenberger)
Shayla Hardwick smiles as she introduces her poetry in the Lory Student Center Theatre on Wednesday. (Photo Credits: Hannah Ditzenberger)

“I have lots of gay and lesbian friends, so it isn’t something that astounds me personally,” Veliz said. “I’m glad it’s being introduced to Fort Collins and the area.”

Though Veliz said she has had a very different life than Davis and Hardwick, she was still drawn to their stories. Davis reiterated this concept of unity.

“The fact that we, as human beings, pick out our differences so easily makes it hard for us to come to the places where we are similar,” Davis said. “We don’t come from the same backgrounds, but we all have similar experiences as human beings.”


Collegian Diversity Beat Reporter Hannah Ditzenberger can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter at @h_ditzenberger.