Friday marked the opening of the seventh annual Mass Poetry Festival, a weekend-long event that celebrates the power of poetry to transform and inspire. For the next two days, downtown Salem is hosting over 1500 fans of the art form who will participate in writing workshops, poetry readings, panel discussions, and a variety of performances. Yesterday, three members of the newly formed BHS poetry slam team had the opportunity to attend the festival’s Student Day of Poetry.
Students engaged in a free-write session
Working with high schoolers from all over the state, these BHS students penned, shared, and performed original pieces they crafted throughout the day in sessions that emphasized the concepts of human visibility, writing through fears, and serving as a witness to social injustice. Starting the day with a workshop entitled “Words that Slay the Monsters,” presented by Boston area teacher and author Krysten Hill, BHS poets explored what it means to use their strength in the service of their vision – to write poems that help them take risks and present honest depictions of the world. That workshop served as an inspiring start to a day full of collaboration, personal expression, inspiration, and joy.
Kristen Hill performs her piece on the experience of being an outsider in a community that you love
The culmination of the trip was a reading and open-mic session where an audience full of young writers were awed by the amazing poetry of Harlym1two5, Tara Skurtu, andKrysten Hill. These seasoned poets offered encouragement, advice, and their own work before sharing the stage with a handful of students who had the courage to speak their truths. BHS junior, Lorraine Kanyike, was the first to stand on stage and recite a piece she wrote that day.
Lorraine Kanyike, BHS junior; Harlym1two5, Boston poet; Tyler Gaffey, BHS junior; and Anastasia Kranz, BHS sophomore, at the open mic.
Inspired by the festival, Lorraine and her fellow slam team members – Aysha Afzal, Tyler Gaffey, TJ Horgan, Cat Hoyt, and Anastasia Kranz – head to the MA Louder Than a Bomb opening ceremony today to begin their month-long participation in the Massachusetts youth poetry slam competition. Some of the poets who presented at the festival yesterday will be there to share the experience with our students and the 39 other participating MA schools’ student writers. Good luck, BHS poets!