Rocky Mount, NC—Wesleyan’s main campus is still abuzz following the April 5 visit by two celebrity poets and motivational speakers who brought their poetic energy to the college to help launch a new program called WesOne. That program is designed to assist students who are the first in their families to attend college—students who may need extra attention in order to develop skills that lead to academic success and completion of a bachelor’s degree.
Dr. Molly Wyatt, Wesleyan’s associate provost and associate professor of sociology, took the lead in bringing Perry Divirgilio and Greg Corbin to campus for a poetry workshop and artistic performance. Divirgilio is artistic director and Corbin is founder of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement. Dr. Wyatt was on hand to oversee the event, and she presents the following account:
“There’s not enough I can say about the positive energy both Perry “Vision” Divirgilio and Greg Corbin have brought to our campus. Three days removed, students, faculty, and staff are still buzzing with excitement from the impactful performances during Saturday’s poetry workshop and performance. In the afternoon workshop, Perry and Greg encouraged Wesleyan students to consider racial, ethnic, and cultural parts of their identities. These are realities our students face everyday, but don’t think about every day, or even at all, with regard to what makes them unique and gives them a unique voice.
This had a profound impact on me as an observer. I was moved, almost to tears, as I witnessed small openings to the hearts of students that I rarely ever see in a classroom. Perry and Greg created a safe atmosphere for the students to delve into some pretty powerful and deeply personal content. The students were comfortable, comforted, and stayed laughing throughout the extended (over 2-hour) workshop. After the workshop, a few of the students were further engaged in an impromptu writing session with Perry. They soaked up the energy brought by the two visiting poets.
Later in the evening, original poetry from students, Perry, and Greg was performed for over 50 guests at North Carolina Wesleyan College’s Elizabeth Braswell Pearsall Library. Librarian Amy Brake expressed how needed this event was for both our students and our campus. She was inspired and energized. Student body president Isaiah Morrow, who was all smiles upon the performance’s end, told me, “I didn’t know what to expect, but it was better than what I could have expected!” Personally, I have never witnessed our students so engaged in cultural and intellectual programming in the eight years I have been at North Carolina Wesleyan College as they were with Perry and Greg. The poets made an impact beyond words—they brought much needed positive energy for our students.”