By: Georgia Thoms
Poetry’s role has expanded in ELHS
Poetry is known for being relatable and powerful messages of society. Through the poetry slam on April 26 and 17 as well as poetry workshops for Poetry Out Loud, many students in East Lyme High School have not only found their voice, but also a bigger appreciation for poetry as a whole.
“Poetry is expressive, poetry is creative, poetry ministers artistry and speaking and social awareness and emotions, which are all very important things,” said English teacher Jeanine Barber. “Poetry also creates a community and a passion, especially for students who need something to focus on,” she explained.
Students who competed in the poetry slam, the workshops, and the Poetry Out Loud competition took away many new things about this expressive form of literature. Juniors Sherani Hansa, Elizabeth Gong, and Chivalry Rukundo along with sophomore Stella Georgian were finalists in the poetry slam competition. All commented that the experiences of the workshops were eye-opening. The lessons taught that different voice modulations give different effects, and writing certain types of poetry are incredibly difficult.
Hansa, a finalist in the slam, read an original titled “First Generation American” and explained that she “wanted to share this side of the experience” that is oftentimes rare to find in East Lyme. Sherani also explained that “there are poems, like books, for everything and everybody. [Poetry] makes your feelings and experiences valid and shows someone can understand you and you can find yourself in a poem.”
Gong, another finalist in the slam, recited a published poem “And Nothing is as Perfect as You Want it to Be” by Brian Patten because it has many different emotions and strong messages. She commented that doing the workshops helped her to excel in the slam and were also very engrossing because reading poetry creates a different point of view; therefore it allows for more personal connections.
“Poetry is a beautiful artform in any language and creates a very complex and relatable experience. Poetry helps me understand different and complex feelings that seem simpler when written in words on paper,” said Gong.
Rukundo, the winner of the published recitation category, read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou because “It has significant words for me, and I can relate to it because growing up my voice was on the sidelines, but now I feel like I have a voice” and she feels empowered by poetry. Rukundo also explained that “poetry gives a person the opportunity to express how they feel especially during hard times when society does not accept them.”
Georgian, winner of the original category with “Coyotes” that metaphorically relates coyotes to drug addicts, explained that she loves poetry for so many reasons, and re-discovered her passion for it in eighth grade. “The experience of writing had always been an outlet and safe haven for me; it has been an escape. It’s a creative, free way to express the wild stuff going on in my brain,” said Georgian.
Library Media Specialist, Kathleen Sasso, took charge of the poetry revival with many English teachers like Ms. Barber and added, “ “I thought we had a fabulous year and the competition was fierce.”