Student Uses Poetry to Shed Light on Native American Rights Issues

English major and Citizen Scholar Abbie Crick has always had poetry in her life. “I’ve been writing poetry since I could hold a pencil,” she said. “I grew up around really traditional poetry, and my writing education, until late high school, was very formal.”

As she got older, Crick realized she could use the genre to speak about issues that matter.

“I wanted to revolt and change things, but I felt voiceless. I didn’t know how to insight change without inciting violence,” Crick said. “When I found slam poetry, suddenly I had a productive tool to share my stories and my perspective. I started performing at rallies and in institutional spaces. People listened, things began to look up. I realized that people are far more perceptive to beautiful resistance than to violence and ugliness.”

Now at Michigan State University, Crick, who is a junior, has multiple outlets to use her voice.

As a member of the MSU Slam Poetry team, Crick shared her words at the 2018 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) in Philadelphia. The MSU team, coached by Detroit poet Natasha Miller, came in ninth place overall among the 65 schools that competed.

In her studies, Crick combines her love of poetry, her own experiences, and her Indigenous Studies minor and writes about Native American rights issues.

“I draw inspiration from the communities around me and the injustices that capture my heart,” she said. “My poetry is my truest stories and deepest feelings.”

Crick also draws inspiration from the Citizen Scholars program.

“Becoming a Citizen Scholar has been a hugely helpful journey for me; it informs and enhances a large amount of my work,” she said.

As a Citizen Scholar, Crick has a unique view of the world and her place in it.

“Being a Citizen Scholar means that you have to be constantly engaged in not only the academic community, but the world at large,” she said. “It really makes me reflect on the work that I’m doing and gives me new ideas and strategies to push it further. As a Citizen Scholar, I am connected to incredible people, programs, and opportunities that I wouldn’t be otherwise. It has enriched my experience as a student, and more largely, as a person.”

My poetry is my truest stories and deepest feelings.

Crick now uses her talent and skills to give back to the community by teaching writing and poetry workshops at local high schools.

“The key to creating change is having a voice, and I want to be able to give tools of expression to as many kids as I can,” she said. “In order to create the change we want, we need to educate and we need to create artful rebellion. Everyone has a story they need to tell, and especially in a political age the likes of which we’re living in, we all need tools to stand up and be heard. I hope my workshops give new and safe spaces for younger audiences to come together as a community, to share their stories, and to create change together."