Hip-hop, Power, Self-expression key Themes in HS Poetry Month

Grade 9 students kicked off their new poetry unit, Finding Power in your Voice, with a workshop with Australian rapper and hip-hop performer The Tongue.

It was part of the High School’s launch of Poetry Month in April and is the second straight year students have worked with established performers. After a successful workshop with Australian Slam Poet Champion Luka Lesson last year, students had the chance on a Day 9 to learn from and interview The Tongue, who has released four albums and performed in famous venues such as the Sydney Opera House.

The Day 9 block was pretty well structured,” student Tony Z. said, referring to the chance to hear The Tongue analyze and explain his artistic choices. “That was very insightful and helped me when I was analyzing for myself.”

Remote learning has meant a new way for students to study poetry, including activities like spine poems, collaborative rhyme text-poems, and recycling their favorite pop songs.

Grade 11 students are also studying poetry, diving into hip-hop and lyrical studies of modern verse through Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance. Like with the students’ chances to meet poets from around the world, Teacher Ed Steele is also serving as an example of putting his poetry into action: He released his own book, a collection of poems he has written over the last 15 years, on April 23 in Beijing.

Another key element of this year’s celebration has been self-expression. Poetry Month celebrations in years past have featured open mics for teachers and students to read poetry in their native languages, including Dutch, German, Russian, Korean, and Japanese, among others. While health and safety measures on campus have prevented the open mics this year, students are creating a virtual showcase featuring videos of their creative works, as well as portfolios demonstrating their use of poetic devices.

Keep an eye on WAB news for a link to these presentations.