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“Curiosity and joy”: Weatherspoon ’25 organizes poetry concert for third straight year

December 1, 2023

Alex Spear
CULTIVATING COMMUNITY: Weatherspoon addresses the audience at "Constants: A Poetry Concert." The event was the second poetry concert held in collaboration between Weatherspoon and The Bowdoin Review.

“Constants” was more than just a poetry concert.

“This big curiosity and joy came out after this concert,” Selima Terras ’26, a performer at the event, said. “I’m hungry for more, and to hear from more people, and to have more spaces to share.”

“Constants: A Poetry Concert” was held on Friday, November 17 in Kresge Auditorium. Students from all class years collaborated with Weatherspoon ’25 to share their poetry at the event named for Weatherspoon’s late mother, whose name was Constance.

Performers said Weatherspoon opened the floor to anyone and actively encouraged many to get involved: Many had never shared their poetry with others or written creatively before the project.

“[Weatherspoon is] just this magical person that sees potential everywhere they go,” Terras said. “We met at [the Career Exploration and Development] office, and we just got to talking. I write music sometimes, and when the concert happened, they texted me and were like, ‘Hey. November 17. Are you free?’”

Colleen Doucette ’24 and Kaitlin Weiss ’25 headlined the concert along with Weatherspoon, and they too referenced Weatherspoon’s welcoming attitude and encouragement in fostering a poetry community at Bowdoin.

Doucette shared how Weatherspoon has encouraged her over the past few years in her writing journey, from convincing her to write during her sophomore year to involving her as a headliner in “Constants.” She now plans to attend graduate school for creative writing.

“I think no matter what I do, it’ll be in my life forever,” Doucette said. “I will never stop writing poetry.”

Weiss echoed Doucette’s sentiments, particularly about the power of the written word spoken aloud.

“I think that performing [poetry] is actually feeling everything that you’re saying and having the opportunity to put force behind what you’re writing down and then connecting with a roomful of people about it,” she said. “Poetry feels incredibly individual to me when I’m writing it.… And then you perform it, and you just watch some words that mean something very specific to you completely transform into somebody else’s.”

Terras seeks this moment of connection with the audience in her poetry.

“I usually seek this sentiment of ‘Me too.’ It’s this sentiment of deep shared humanity,” she said. “My purpose is always to try to make people feel seen.”

The audience was active throughout the two hours of the concert: snapping, oohing and aahing at voice and verse.

As a musical vocalist, audience member Phoebe Kolff ’26 connected with the speakers and recognized the vulnerability of sharing something so intimate with a large audience.

“It wasn’t just the beautiful language that moved me, but also the vulnerability that each person entered by stepping up and sharing,” Kolff said. “Combining personal and intimate art in the mode of performance is very hard to do.”

“Constants” was organized by The Bowdoin Review in conjunction with Weatherspoon. The Review’s editor-in-chief, Noah Saperstein ’25, said he and Weatherspoon aim to “future-proof” the event for when the two eventually leave the College.

“At some point, Weatherspoon and I will be gone, but the idea is that an organization will remain to continue the concert series for future students,” Saperstein wrote in an email to the Orient.

Last year, the collaboration’s first poetry concert came together with “Say What’s Real!” held in Studzinski Recital Hall. Weatherspoon first held a poetry concert at Bowdoin in 2021, making “Constants” their third poetry event at the College.

Saperstein is affectionately known as the “logistics guy” behind the concert, according to Weatherspoon. Saperstein noted that he and Weatherspoon actually began planning the event at the end of the last spring semester.

“We have always been great friends, and over our time here together at Bowdoin we have realized the mutual need for art on campus,” he wrote.

At the concert, Saperstein opened with words about the show’s theme of grief.

“This show is a poetic exploration of what happens when something or someone is missing from us. Grief is the price we pay for inspiration,” he said. “We carry grief as the emotional counterpart to memory. Tonight, several talented student poets will share their own stories of grief and highlight the ways it forced them to surrender, to change and embrace new realities.”

Weatherspoon was open about their life’s story throughout the concert, embracing the type of vulnerability performers and audience members alike admired.

In an email to the Orient, Weatherspoon wrote about the first time they wrote poetry.

“October 31, 2014, I had just re-entered foster care for what I think was the third time, about a month prior to the aforementioned date. My foster mother had taken me to a party, and I felt stuck in a room full of strangers. I went back to the car, sat in the back seat and I wanted to cry but couldn’t, so I opened the notes app on my phone and started writing,” they said. “That’s where I wrote my first poem. I was about twelve years old, I think.”

This concert was particularly special to Weatherspoon because it honored their late mother.

“We shared a tenuous relationship while she was alive, and I never truly got to share my gifts—the gifts she gave me—with her through my art form,” they said. “I like to think that she was in the room, watching me grow.”

Editor’s note 12/2/2023 at 3:00 p.m. EDT: A previous version of this article mistakenly reported that the event was the second annual poetry concert. The concert is in its third year led by Weatherspoon and in its second year sponsored by the Bowdoin Review. A change has been made to accurately reflect this.


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