Alexandra Peters finishes reciting her second poem at Project SPIT's One Night Slam. Her performance is lauded with applause by spectators and her fellow poets, but one cheer projects louder than the rest.
SPIT president Charles Hines runs to Peters, embracing her with joy and showing pride in his friend's ability to voice beauty in her words.
Project SPIT, Student Poetry Initiating Thought, is UCF's first and only poetry organization. SPIT, which was created in 2013, focuses mainly on spoken word, but it accepts all art forms.
"We give people like us, or people who want to listen, a platform to express whatever they want to, whatever's on their mind, whatever is an important issue that they and we can relate to," said Peters, a junior human communication major. "It's an outlet. We give people an outlet."
Project SPIT is run with the help of Peters, the marketing director, and Hines, the president.
In spring 2015 , Hines, a junior creative writing major, was on the UCF poetry team that competed at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, an international invite-only poetry slam at which UCF finished in fifth place overall out of 68 schools, ahead of Ivy League universities such as Harvard, Yale and Columbia.
"The passion and demand for this organization is so amazing. This isn't just me," Hines said. "The people that don't know about us are looking for an environment like Project SPIT. It's the only organization at UCF that offers anything like this."
Hines said there's a kind of comfort and expression that comes with being a part of Project SPIT. Even though the club is only two years old, the relationships Hines and Peters have shared with their fellow artists have changed how they view university life and society as a whole.
Project SPIT has a succinct focus to raise awareness about many different issues through its own art form. At its One Night Slam on Nov. 20, the topics in the spoken-word poems ranged from the struggles of social media, the adventures of an acid trip, racial injustice and even rape.
"I love to address things that I feel people are afraid to address, like social justice or social standards," Hines said. "I like to make people rethink certain things and remind people that they have a voice."
For Peters, the One Night Slam was her first slam competition. With 14 competitors, three rounds and only one winner, Peters finished in fifth place, making it to the final round. Hines finished in fourth.
The poets involved in Project SPIT are inspired by a great number of authors, poets and issues, but Peters' first influence was a poet close to many impressionable hearts: Dr. Seuss.
"My mom got me 'Hop on Pop' when I was a kid, and I was like 'Wow, these words rhyme! And there's still a story!' and that I could do this," Peters said.
The One Night Slam determined who would be on the team to represent UCF at CUPSI in 2016. David Torrence, a senior sports and exercise science major, walked away as the victor. But Hines insists that it's so much more than a contest.
"We just want everybody to feel that their cause can be supported and their voice can be heard," Hines said. "We're a performance-based organization, but as a whole, it's about creating a voice and creating something beautiful about the world we live in."
(Video by Paige Wilson and Rachel Stuart)