Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tuesday, October 01, 2019 - Evening Program
Finally, the Poets: Art(ists) as the Pulse of Collective Healing and Justice
Terisa Siagatonu

What if our health depended on us telling our stories? What if we not only felt better when we expressed our truth artistically, but we actually healed through it. Through dynamic performance and artistic testimony, award-winning poet, speaker, teaching artist, and activist Terisa Siagatonu helps re-imagine a world where artists not only beautify our lives with creative vision, but where they articulate and guide the world in ways that cannot be accomplished through any other profession, field, or discipline.

Terisa Siagatonu is an award-winning poet, teaching artist, mental health educator, and community leader born and rooted in the Bay Area. She has performed and spoken at the Obama White House and at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France. She was awarded Champion of Change Award in 2012 by President Obama for her activism as a spoken word poet/organizer in her Pacific Islander community.

With numerous viral poetry videos garnering over millions of views collectively, Siagatonu's writing blends the personal, cultural, and political in a way that calls for healing, courage, justice, and truth. A Kundiman Fellow, her work has been published in Poetry Magazine and has been featured on Button Poetry, CNN, NBCNews, NPR, Huffington Post, Everyday Feminism, The Guardian, BuzzFeed and Upworthy. 

Since getting involved in poetry slam in 2010, she has been a member of several award-winning slam teams, including the 2017 inaugural Root Slam Team, helping her team to place 5th in the nation at the National Poetry Slam competition in Denver, CO. When she's not competing, she is coaching college poetry slam teams and mentoring young writers in writing workshops throughout the country. She is one of the co-founders and organizers of The Root Slam, a free bi-weekly poetry venue based in Oakland, CA, voted the 2017 and 2018's Best Open Mic venue in the Bay Area. 

Siagatonu holds a B.A. degree in community studies and a minor in education from the University of California-Santa Cruz and a M.A. in marriage/family therapy from the University of Southern California. She strives to use her background as a mental health clinician and poet to bridge the gaps in the quest for collective healing and liberation. 

Ms. Siagatonu’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Berger Institute at CMC.