The 2018 Women of the World Poetry Slam champion Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa will perform in an event co-sponsored by the University Program Council and the Women’s Center. 

FreeQuency will perform their slam poetry on topics such as gender-based and African American culture and issues on Friday, Nov. 8, in the Nebraska Union Ballroom at 7:30 p.m. Students can attend for free with a valid NCard, and the public can attend for $5, according to Nebraska Today

Will Parker, UPC Diversity/Education chair and a sophomore hospitality, restaurant and tourism management major, said he wanted to share FreeQuency’s messages with the community. 

“They have a really powerful way of performing and conveying that message to everybody,” he said. “I hope that students come and are inspired by them and enjoy their message through the form of poetry.” 

Parker said he saw FreeQuency perform at a National Association of Campus Activities event in February in Columbus, Ohio, and he decided to invite them to perform at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“I was so moved by their performance, and I decided that I really wanted them to come and perform at UNL,” Parker said. “I was fortunate enough to be able to decide at NACA and book them at NACA and get them here for this semester.”

FreeQuency is an African American slam poet, Kenyan immigrant and identifies as a queer woman, according to Pat Tetreault, director of the LGBTQA+ and Women’s centers.   

“I think it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there in that way, to share those stories,” Tetreault said. “Being from Kenya, where I believe it is still illegal to be gay, that is a supremely brave thing to do because you can end up in prison just for being who you are.”

Tetreault said the Women’s Center decided to co-sponsor the event because she believes poetry is an influential way to share important messages.

“I think slam poetry is also a way of storytelling with people that is very emotional and engaging,” Tetreault said. “I’m actually looking forward to learning more about what FreeQuency does.”

Tetreault said FreeQuency has won a variety of awards, including first place at the 2018 Women of the World Poetry Slam and third place at the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam. FreeQuency also spoke at the 2017 TEDWomen Conference, according to Nebraska Today. 

Tetreault said she hopes people learn to see the world from a different perspective after the event.

“It’s taking away learning more about an individual’s view of the world,” she said. “That can also help open up people’s minds and hearts to the storytelling that is taking place.”

Parker said he hopes to see people at the event. 

“It should be an awesome event,” he said. “Whether or not people are into slam poetry or not, it should be a really all-around amazing, inspiring event for anybody who would like to attend.”