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Speaking the Word

Five people of various racial and gender identities are depicted in a photomontage.
Clockwise from top left: Mia Word (Photo: Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard University), Imani Fonfield (Photo: Partners In Health), Imani Davis (Photo: Karen Yang & The Excelano Project), Porsha Olayiwola (Photo: Linda Mindaye), and Myles Tyler (Photo: Lip Manegio).

Special Event

Harvard Art Museums, Menschel Hall, Lower Level
Enter at Broadway for evening programs

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Harvard Art Museums are hosting a poetry reading and open mic for the Harvard community and the public. The first hour will be dedicated to scheduled readers, and during this time an open mic list will be passed around. The floor will open to others to read a poem in the second hour; each poet will have a three-minute time limit.

Scheduled poets:

Imani Davis is a queer, Black, and neurodivergent writer from Brooklyn. A recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, the Mellon Foundation, Lambda Literary, StoryStudio Chicago, and the Stadler Center for Poetry, they’re currently a Ph.D. candidate in American studies at Harvard University, where they also earned their M.A. in English.

Davis’s poetry has appeared in Academy of American Poets, Best New Poets, Best of the Net, PBS News Hour’s Brief but Spectacular series, and elsewhere. Notably, they have performed at the Teen Vogue Activism Summit, the Apollo Theater, Brave New Voices, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Kelly Writers House, and the Nuyorican Poets Café.

Mia Word is a poet hailing from the Mississippi Delta. Her poetry is often influenced by her Southern upbringing and heritage, rooted in Blues, ancestry, and storytelling. She is a current senior at Harvard College, studying English literature.

Myles Taylor is a transmasculine writer, organizer, award-winning poetry slam competitor, food service worker, Capricorn-Aquarius cusp, and glitter enthusiast. They are the current producer of the historic Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge. Taylor’s first full-length collection, Masculinity Parable, is out with Game Over Books. Their list of publications can be found at, and their neuroses can be found on social media @mylesdoespoems. They live among the rats of Allston, Mass.

Imani Fonfield is a junior at Harvard College concentrating in history and science with a secondary field in global health and health policy. Fonfield is a research assistant and book reviewer in the history of American medicine under the guidance of a Brigham and Women’s Hospital physician-historian. She is also an inaugural public service journalism fellow affiliated with Phillips Brooks House Association at Harvard, where she publishes a series of alumni leader profiles in the Harvard Gazette. Her personal, intellectual, and professional passions are deeply rooted in the right to health. Through the power of storytelling, Fonfield aspires to use the skills of her concentration to pursue a career at the intersection of medicine, law, engaged scholarship, and patient advocacy.

Porsha Olayiwola is an individual world poetry slam champion and the author of the collection i shimmer sometimes, too. Olayiwola is the current poet laureate for the City of Boston, a 2020 Academy of American Poets poet laureate fellow, and the Jacob Ziskind Poet in Residence at Brandeis University.

Free admission, but seating is limited and registration is required. You can register by clicking on the event on this form beginning Monday, April 8, after 10am.

The lecture will take place in Menschel Hall, Lower Level, and doors to the hall will open for seating at 5:30pm.

The portion of this program featuring scheduled readings will be recorded and made available for online viewing; check back shortly after the event for the link to view.

Limited complimentary parking is available in the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge.

The Harvard Art Museums are now offering free admission every day, Tuesday through Sunday. Please see the museum visit page to learn about our general policies for visiting the museums.

The Harvard Art Museums are committed to accessibility for all visitors. For anyone requiring accessibility accommodations for our programs, please contact us at at least 48 hours in advance.