On Tuesday, Dec. 8 via Zoom, University of Maine fourth-year student and McGillicuddy Humanities Center (MHC) fellow Bria Lamonica presented her poetry series, “The Art of Breathing,” which addressed the hardships women face and her appreciation for feminism. Lamonica’s poetry series sheds light on oppression and the female body, and how women are expected to hold certain standards in today’s society.
Lamonica is a fourth-year student at UMaine, studying English with a concentration in creative writing, and psychology. She is also a culture section writer for the Maine Campus. During her fellowship with MHC, Lamonica had the opportunity to work towards her career after college and get a glimpse of what her future holds by experimenting with her writing.
“The MHC fellowship was a great opportunity to network with UMaine staff, connect with professors on a deeper level, and have the funding to pursue my dream for this project and to buy all the poetry books that I needed,” Lamonica said.
During her fellowship presentation, a variety of readers read 17 poems, only two of which were not written by Lamonica. To start the reading off, Lamonica read the poems “Crushed,” “Dog-Eared,” “Following Directions,” “Impound/Constrain-t,” “Tear-Drop Roots,” “Upended,” “Zen Garden” and “And When You Smile At Me”.
Following her reading, Kathleen Ellis, a UMaine English lecturer, read the poem “Gullible” and fourth-year English student Sarah Penney read the poems “Frayed,” “The Disorder of Work-Shy” and “You Are.” After Penney, third-year anthropology student Autumn Rogers read Lamonica’s poem titled “I Am (Tired),” as well as one of her own personal poems.
Finally, Lamonica’s mother Linette Hice read three poems to end the readings. The first two poems she read were “Statistic” and “The Loneliness Monster” written by Lamonica, and the third was “An Ode To Fearless Women,” a poem by Nikkita Gill that reminds Hice of the success she sees in her daughter and how proud she is of her.
The poems that Lamonica wrote and read for this presentation focused heavily on feminism and experiences women face, as well as the importance of what women are doing to work towards equality.
“These poems are a body of work inspired by collective female experiences,” Lamonica said. “I think many women can relate to these stories and have had times in their lives when they felt not good enough or insecure. My intent with this project was to create something that could be related to and hopefully inspire other women to share their stories and make their voices be heard.”
In the presentation, Lamonica also noted that these poems are for those who want to make their voices heard but are unable to, and she is not only speaking for herself, but for those who can’t.
The poems were deep, raw and full of emotion. The collection well represents how women have to conform and impress in today’s world, but it is not so easy to do so. It also discusses the reality of toxic relationships women face and are prone to.
Her pieces very much resemble the works of feminist poet Rupi Kaur. In her first poetry book, “Milk and Honey,” Kaur writes of themes including violence, love, loss and abuse that she as a woman has dealt with in her life. Lamonica has successfully delivered similar themes and hearing them read aloud makes the words stick and resonate with you.
For example, in her poem “Dog-Eared,” Lamonica read, “I wonder how these people would change their view of us, if we didn’t look as if the smiles on our faces were being pulled up by the fingers of a love in pieces.” In her other poem, “Zen Garden,” she read, “No one wants to talk about the ones who are silently hurting, the ones who don’t need to make a sound for others to realize they are suffering.”
With her fellowship now completed and the experience of developing this poetry project now under her belt, there is no doubt that Lamonica will continue to inspire by spreading awareness on these topics and creating a voice for the women who are unable to.
For more inspiring poetry about feminism and women’s equality similar to Lamonica’s pieces, visit poetryfoundation.org and poets.org.