Library Hosts Poetry Slam


Lourdes Garcia

Each reader at the Poetry Slam had their own story to tell and poetry helped them to share it. Left to Right: Mrs. Bela Shah, Mr. Carmello Chiara, Mr. Andrew Oakley, sophomore Tyrik Iman-Washington, sophomore Roisin McCluskey, Ms. Maggie Devine and sophomore Josue Alvarez.

Sophie Picone, Editor

The Warren Hills library hosted a Poetry Slam on April 29, for members of the school to come together and celebrate over poetry.
As always, the event was hosted by Librarian Margaret Devine, her assistant, Bela Shah, and the students of the Horizons SLAM writing group. At the event, staff and students alike were invited to read poems, both original and not. Groups of other students and staff were invited to watch during all three lunches.
At the beginning of each lunch, the Slam was opened with a presentation from Devine. In her introduction, Devine included powerful quotes about the meaning of poetry— from a Gertrude Stein quote, “‘Poetry is doing nothing but using losing refusing and pleasing and betraying and caressing nouns”’– to a quote from author and social activist Gloria Jean Watkins, whose pen name is bell hooks: ‘“Poetry sustains life…of this I am certain.”’
Not only does poetry sustain life, however, the spoken word also brings people together. As the poets in the library shared their words, the audience and the poets shared the same thoughts and emotions that the poems inspired and moved within them.
The audience laughed with English teacher Carmello Chiara, as he shared a poem he wrote, “The Ham and Cheese Sandwich,” the eating of which was interrupted when he had to call 911 to report what he thought was a prowler on his property, only to discover that it was only a man with a broken down car.
“A sad sandwich
Melting mayonnaise
Chalky cheese and unholy ham”
Interrupted by an “existential crisis,” his poem sparked smiles around the room.
Another poem, written by sophomore Tyrik Iman-Washington, had a much more serious and pensive theme.
“I try to fit in with the color brown on my skin
It’s hard ‘cause society
won’t let me in
so I hide in my hoodie
holding skittles and iced tea
As I walked I dreamt of a better life for you and me
Not knowing I’m taking my last breath.”
Washington’s poem, about race and life and death, ended with a disclaimer— “let my life be a warning to you–” which made the audience pause and think.
Each of the poems had its own emotions, reflecting upon the authors and affecting the audience more greatly than one would expect from 30-minute lunchtime poetry sessions. This year, however, something new affected the poetry slam and the people attending it almost more than anything else— Ukraine.
Since the 24th of February, the world has supported and grieved for Ukraine as it fights Russia. Poems this year, from students and teachers alike, mirrored these feelings.
Devine’s poem, about her twins’ opening night in a musical in April, sympathized with the mothers in Ukraine who can’t have those experiences with their own children.
we will watch with tears-
our children …
their happiness,
this play of life,
their ease in this world
as the hands of
mothers in Ukraine
as they scribble
contact information
in Sharpies
across the backs of their children.”
Although the poems about Ukraine were especially moving, each and every poem was powerful. The audience silenced their cell phones and listened carefully as the poets shared their voices.
Poetry Slam was “a room of marvels,” as Devine had quoted from poet Andre Breton at the start of the event. For 90 minutes, the students and staff of Warren Hills were able to come together, laugh, reflect, grieve and most importantly, bond over poetry.