The best thing about poetry is that it’s a creative and inclusive way to express yourself. That’s why, in a partnership with Encircle, Dixie State University is hosting four poetry writing workshops for LGBTQ+ students and allies.
Cindy King, assistant professor of English, initiated the collaboration last year with support from a DSU Community Engaged Learning Mini-Grant for her proposal, “Student Writers in the City: Blazing Trails in St. George.”
The workshops are hosted by her upper-division poetry students, and it gives them the opportunity to showcase what they’ve learned in class.
King said: “It’s for everyone; it’s a place for support. In a more practical sense, the poetry students can now say they’ve worked with diverse and marginalized populations.”
The purpose of the workshops is to provide a creative outlet for the LGBTQ+ community and spread the word about Encircle’s resources. The grant will also fund an anthology of poems and visual art from workshop attendees.
“After the anthology is published, there will be a launch party for contributors and participants to showcase their work and celebrate it by giving a reading at the Encircle house,” King said. “It’s a great platform to say your piece.”
The St. George Encircle home functions as a safe environment for LGBTQ+ youth, young adults and their families to come together through friendship circles, therapy and community events. Students can even stop by during drop-in hours for a quiet place to do homework and get a free tour of the house.
Julie Benson, program manager for Encircle St. George, said the organization was created as a response to Utah’s high rate of LGBTQ+ suicide.
According to Encircle’s website, “LGB youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers [and] forty-eight percent of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt.”
Benson said she’s excited about the poetry workshop partnership because it gives the St. George LGBTQ+ community a chance come together and network with one another.
“We wanted to bring in that creative conversation, and this is another way to connect and get your stories told,” Benson said.
Naji Haska Runs Through, a two-spirit freshman art major from St. George and Encircle DSU intern, said they’re glad the anthology is creating a legacy for queer voices but wishes more people would attend the workshops.
“Sometimes it’s hard not to feel alone in the queer community in St. George, so it’s refreshing to know that trans people exist here that I haven’t met before,” Runs Through said. “I would love to see more people come. Humans are creative beings and these workshops are for everyone; it doesn’t matter what skill level you are.”
The workshops are free and can be attended in-person in HCC 477 or through Zoom. The remaining dates are March 2 and March 16 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
To learn more about what Encircle offers, visit encircletogether.org.