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Modern Muse Poetry

A Spoken Word Group Takes Flight 

Modern Muse Poetry is inspiring poets inside and outside the classroom, while further connecting the MFA program with the larger San Marcos community. 


A view from the stage at a Modern Muse Slam.

A stimulating and supportive artistic community is one of the most important elements of an MFA experience. While students exchange helpful feedback on their writing in workshop, and learn from renowned faculty and visiting writers, there’s an additional layer of growth that, according to student Brent Green (Poetry ‘20) can only occur through social and creative projects outside the structures of academics.

Enter Modern Muse Poetry, a student group formed by Green and his MFA peers during the Fall ‘17 Semester. The group, dedicated to slam and performance poetry, organizes regular poetry slams in San Marcos, and provides a weekly outlet for participants to workshop spoken word projects in a low-stakes and encouraging environment. As Green explained, “Like in the weekly workshop classes that are the cornerstone of our MFA program, it’s important for slam artists to have a similar community to perform for, grow with, and learn from.”  

The group welcomes writers of any medium or genre, and is made up of both seasoned slam poets like Green—who has competed in several national tournaments—as well as beginners. Because of this inclusivity, it’s no surprise that, while the group competes in slams, its primary objective is artistic growth and discourse, rather than competition. And this growth, in turn, leads to more inspired and well-crafted writing in the formal classroom as well.

“Modern Muse encourages me to dig deep and wonder—what am I passionate about?” explained first-year participant Emily Ellison. “What, above all else, fuels my writing with emotional drive, and is that a central part of my identity and self-expression? As an artist, I am asked to reconsider how I record my thoughts and how these thoughts contribute to a tradition larger than myself.”

“It has affected me as an artist,” echoed Modern Muse Co-President Luke Ramsey, “…by challenging me to perform my poetry in a public space, to think of how words will sound coming out of my mouth as opposed to how words look just on the page.”  

In its inaugural year, Modern Muse has already made itself known around San Marcos, and the group hopes to continue to foster a community for slam poets for years to come. 

They also plan to take their craft on the road to the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in San Antonio later in 2018. And in the future, Green hopes to send a Modern Muse team to the annual College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI).  “It is my goal,” said Green,  “for Texas State to be among the 75 college teams competing for the national title.”