Live Poets Society

April is National Poetry Month.  And Jazz Appreciation Month.  As well as School Library Month.

Who knew?

Well, most students and staff at Staples High School.

At least, they knew it last Friday.  That’s when the library, and Liz Olbrych’s Reading and Writing Poetry class, hosted a day-long “Poetry Slam and Jazz Celebration.”

No one knew what to expect.  After 7 hours of music and poems by students and staff, what they got was joy, thanks to the impromptu, improvisational feel of the unstructured, honest and very cool event.

Harry Moritz

Harry Moritz epitomized the free-flowing spirit.  The senior wrote poems all day long, then stepped up to the mic and read them.  One described school as a jail, but lauded the library for allowing the slam/jam to happen — while chastising himself for oversleeping and missing one of the jazz groups.

“Harry was on fire,” a staff member said.  “His poems really evolved as the day went on.”

“Everyone was so into it,” Harry praised.  “Having thoughts, writing them down, getting up, presenting them in front of everybody — it’s very exciting.”

Marquell Washington

Marquell Washington stunned the crowd with a deeply personal, very compelling poem called “Epiphany of a Doubt.”  “Wow,” a fellow student said.  “I never knew he had that in him.”

Senior Adam Bangser recited a poem he wrote that, he said, “got me into college.”  A trio of juniors read Dr. Seuss.

One girl offered an ode to her Italian instructor — in Italian.  Another introduced a poem she had written in 4th grade — when her teacher, then as now, was Ms. Olbrych.

Adults read too.  English instructor Dan Geraghty’s poem answered a question teachers often hear:  “What do you make?”  His answer:  He makes students work, write and think.

Townwide coordinator of information and technology literacy Bill Derry gave a particularly animated rendering of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.”

Ameen-Storm Abo-Hamzy

Ameen-Storm Abo-Hamzy was a guest.  With his do-rag, multiple piercings and vivid tattoos, he looks anything like a poet.  But his poem — about assumptions people make based on his name and his looks — had his audience hanging on every word.

Ameen, it turns out, is a Vietnam vet — and a 4th-generation Connecticut resident.

Friday’s poetry touched on all the usual topics:  School.  Nature.  Parents.  Friends.  The planet.  Pets.  Love.   Sex.

Happy Jazz Appreciation Month.  Happy School Library Month.

And especially, Happy National Poetry Month.

5 responses to “Live Poets Society

  1. I recently spoke to the Sunshine Rotary about our definition of Twenty-first Century Schools. In short, there has been a paradigm shift from teachers being dispensers of information to teacher as coach. It is our job to provide students opportunities to solve real-world problems using technology, working in groups, and then presenting a persuasive argument to others that their solution is the best one.

    There has also been a paradigm shift in what a library is. Our Westport Library is a perfect example. It is definitely the center of community life in Westport. Our Staples Library Media Center is transforming into the center of student life at Staples. This Poetry Slam is but one example of what our LMC provides to students. Kudos to our Library Media specialists for having the courage to do something that only ten years ago would have been unthinkable. It was loud, boisterous, but controlled and positive. Viva la LMC!

  2. Ditto John Dodig! Perfectly said.

  3. It sounds like it was a great event. How about doing it more often and creating other events that allow creativity to flourish. If you build it, they will come.

  4. It was absolutely amazing. Hope to see more of these in the future.

  5. “Poetry is either something that lives like
    fire inside you – like music to the
    musician . . . – or else it is nothing, an
    empty, formalised bore
    around which pedants can endlessly
    drone their notes and explanations.”
    –F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Staples was on fire last Friday.