Arts & Entertainment

Poetry is slowly growing at UWT

The hidden poetry scene on UWT’s campus has been springing to life on campus.

Photo by Cole Martin | Jamal Gabobe books, a speaker at UW Seattle.

With the first annual UWT poetry festival occurring in April, as well as some amazingly dedicated creative writing faculty, poetry has begun to make a name for itself on campus lately! It’s sometimes hard to spot the art groups on campus, but the active efforts from hobbyists and professional poets at UWT have really shown.

UWT is lucky to have a few strong voices involved in the poetry field, including poet Jamal Gabobe. Gabobe is an accomplished poet with three poetry books under his belt, a PhD in comparative literature and a local staff member at the UWT library.

Gabobe’s poetry is filled to the brim with particularly unique cultural insight; coming from a Somali family in Yemen and going to a private English-speaking school, Gabobe has a culturally rich background. He spoke Somali at home, Arabic out and about and English at school, which led to a lot of linguistic understanding and cultural diversity that appears in his work. 

“They go to questions of identity; as a Somali person, as a Muslim, as an Arabic-speaking. This directs you to certain areas… the critical issues. So, they have a bearing on what I write,” says Gabobe, “In a way, they’re somewhat like avenues of escape from one to the other. If you’re stuck on issues here, you can move to the other one. It opens horizons for you… The availability of other cultures gives you leeway.”

The link between culture and art is really strong, and Gabobe is a great example that poetry is no exception. Gabobe’s work, both creatively and academically, delves into critical cultural issues.  His poetry books cover topics of identity, memories of the past, love stories and more. 

His latest book, “The Path of Difference,” which is available to purchase online, goes deep into Gabobe’s multicultural life. The topic of identity is broad and interdisciplinary, and Gabobe craftily weaves these many ideas together.

“Truth revealed in movement, in the agony of falling, not in speech,” Gabobe writes in “The Path of Difference.”

He’s also currently studying early European travel documents from explorers around the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, diving into the controversial old texts to paint a bigger picture for both sides.

Gabobe has been keeping up with the recent poetry progress at UWT. While recent successes have been great to see, the efforts to bring poetry to campus has been a little scattered.

“The poetry scene at UW Tacoma could use more input and resources. Things would also be better if the various individuals, groups and academics who are interested in poetry would  communicate with each other and coordinate their activities,” says Gabobe.

Events like the UWT Poetry festival give a bright outlook to the poets on campus, and there is hope for the continued growth and interest in the art. Gabobe’s three books, “The Path of Difference,” “Love & Memory” and “Restless Heart” can be found up in the TLB library alongside other poetry works.