Poetry class delivers performances to express messages


Sydney Bigelow

Poet and I know it– Senior Kasay Chandlar performs her poem from the senior Poetry class. English teacher Virginia Gillis took her Poetry class to the library to perform their writing in front of the class.

Sydney Bigelow, Managing Editor

At the end of December, English teacher Virginia Gillis gave her senior Poetry class the opportunity to stand up to perform their poems outside of the classroom. Gillis booked the library in order to respect the poets during their spoken delivery of poetic work written during the quarter.

Poetry is a senior English elective that is often overlooked when placed next to new options such as Heroes & Monsters or Utopias & Dystopias. Although poetry might not sound as interesting and unique as those options, the classic literature skill appealed to many seniors who enrolled in the course.

Throughout the one semester course, Poetry students have analyzed the work of established poets in order to understand what is expected of a poem. Learning skills such as diction choice, rhyming, and themes, the students have applied these concepts to their own work, writing poems of various lengths and topics.

One of the necessary skills a poet must demonstrate goes beyond what can be done with a pen and paper: performance. Gillis wanted to give her poets the platform to truly perform their poems with emotion and body language so she brought them to the library to speak at the podium in front of their classmates as well as a few individuals from the library department.

“Words are inanimate, but a person is very much alive; and when the audience is the person behind the words, they can connect better, as humans were built better to connect with others. This connection gives the words more power, as they can influence an audience to feel certain emotions,” senior Ethan Roy said.

Performance was inspired by the meaning of the poems that were read out loud. Students wrote about topics that they had experienced or were passionate about, such as the stigma around accepting sexual identity, the drive it requires to be successful, and mental health issues, such as depression. Students were able to use their words and poetry skills to create meaningful, impactful poems to deliver a message and their words were enhanced by facial expressions, hand movement, and body positioning when speaking directly to an audience.

“My poem was about something very vulnerable, so my narrow, closed-off body language helped show the audience how I felt in that moment. I used body language throughout to effectively convey the emotions I wanted to, and to manipulate the audience to feel those emotions… Of course, being able to use my voice helped too. The tone in person gave a more real feeling to the emotions the audience experienced, and made it a more efficient piece,” Roy said.

Although it would be ideal to perform poetry without a mask on and in front of a larger audience, Gillis and Poetry students did not let the restrictions of the pandemic prevent the performance of the poetry.