Freeword: Learning Through Poetry

Over the past five years, an average of 46 percent of Davidson’s graduates have taken two or more classes in the arts, regardless of their major. The arts play a significant role —in curricular and extracurricular ways—in creating and expanding educational experiences on and off campus.

Erin Scott ’20 is one of the leading members of the Freeword Poetry Group, a student group dedicated to providing a place to share spoken word poetry on campus.

“Before joining Freeword, I didn’t really know spoken word existed as a genre,” she said. “I was much more familiar with written poetry, but now I realize that poetry is about language in all its forms.”

When Scott first joined the group as a first-year student, Freeword was very much focused on slam poetry and competitive spoken word. The organization has since branched out from its slam poetry roots to embrace language in all its forms.

“The group is now much more fluid and quiet, compared to when I first joined,” she said. “While slam poetry will always be a big part of the organization, we would still like to be more inclusive of other forms of language.”

One idea is to have poets perform in conjunction with visual artists depicting the poem.

As a German and biology double major, Scott has enjoyed writing since she was a child and strongly encourages students to pursue interests outside of their majors.

“Though I was always interested in writing, it wasn’t until high school when I became passionate about poetry,” she said.

One of her high school English teachers was an avid poet, and Scott credits their bond with sparking her interest in written poetry and inspiring her involvement with Freeword. However, at times, Scott feels like she lives in two different worlds.

“I feel like there is a sort of antagonism between the sciences and the humanities,” she said. “I know STEM students who feel a lot of pressure to spend most of their time on their field of study. But I am encouraged by Davidson professors who attempt to bridge the gap by incorporating interdisciplinary topics into their teaching—like the humanitarian impact of climate change and the relationships between health and human values.”

As Scott leaves Freeword in the capable hands of underclassmen, she hopes the group continues to open up in order to provide a more accessible creative outlet for students who may not be writers or who aren’t passionate about studying the humanities.

After graduation in the spring, Scott will continue her research in biology and is entertaining the idea of publishing her own collection of poetry or joining the Peace Corps.


  • October 8, 2019