Kelsey Carlson recites her poem during Sardis secondary’s Behind the Curtain poetry event at the school on Wednesday.

Actions speak louder than words

Sardis students lay emotions on the line in poetry reading event

Spoken word poetry has a tendency to turn everyday feelings into captivating emotions.

Much stronger than the written word, a poem tumbling out of a writer’s mouth becomes a performance piece. For the audience, there is no looking away.

At Spoken Word: Behind the Curtain at Sardis secondary during a lunch hour this week, nine young poets take turns the microphone. As they each steady themselves under the spotlight, they are embodied by their poems. Emotions that would usually be contained within the lines on the page launch out like missiles into the darkened room. Innuendo and double meanings are shared with a knowing look. Empathy is drawn with soft voices and pleading eyes.

Their actions speak much louder than their carefully thought out words.

So much so, that when Hyacinth Lithgow steps to the mic her anger grows hotter than hellfire.

And when Siobhan Robinson addresses sadness, she becomes heart-breaking, full-body sorrow.

And even when Fay Ewing cracks wise, challenging the norm on love and marriage, the audience is in her palm and they rock with laughter that she alone created.

It can’t be easy, but these poets pull off the job like professionals. Over the course of a lunch break, in the sliver of space behind the main stage, the poets tell a collective story of youth. They’ve written about the ridiculousness of philosophy, bad relationships and self esteem. They speak about physical abuse and suicide with shivering, cold truth in their voices.

In the isolation of the spotlight, the poets can share their deepest thoughts with an understanding peer group.

In her piece Red Rum, Kelsey Carlson tells them “I should be shooting toward my destiny like a bullet from a gun,” with the emphasis on should. They know the feeling, their nodding heads imply.

William McKnight, who emceed Wednesday’s event, said standing up for a Spoken Word reading is akin to “180 minutes of terror.” There are a few rules to follow. For one, there is no clapping during the performances. To show their appreciation for a turn of phrase or masterful pacing, the audience is told to snap. The effect is a muffled version of applause that doesn’t interrupt the poet at work.

And there are rules for the poets, namely, not to ramble on.

The time limit is three minutes a piece, a standard for spoken word competitions.

The group plans to hold the event once a month at lunch, as a way of supporting each other in their writing and gaining the experience of performing in front of an audience.

He wants the community to know there are talented writers, toiling away at their craft on the sides of their school desks. Some of them are already published authors, others are just testing the waters. But anyone who appreciates spoken word and poetry are welcome in the group, he says.

McKnight is hoping they can draw out bigger audiences and more poets.

“We tend to think that nothing ever happens here,” McKnight says. “But there are students here doing something great.”

jpeters@theprogress.com

 

Just Posted

Chilliwack Players Guild presents beloved classic ‘A Christmas Carol’

The Chilliwack Players Guild brings famous Dickens tale to life at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

Hope Secondary teacher disciplined for inappropriate contact with student

Female teacher pursued Grade 12 student for friendship even after being rebuked

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Nov. 11 to 17

Wife of Chilliwack homicide victim says he was more than ‘known to police’

Keith Baldwin had ups and downs but he was a loving man, loved by many

UPDATE: Missing Edmonton man found

Justin Saris, 37, was on his way to Chilliwack from Edmonton

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

Petition for free hospital parking presented to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

What started as a B.C. campaign became a national issue, organizer said

Bargaining to resume in Metro Vancouver transit strike as bus driver overtime ban looms

Both sides might be headed back to the table to prevent new overtime ban

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

VIDEO: Don Cherry says he was fired, not sorry for ‘Coach’s Corner’ poppy rant

Cherry denies he was singling out visible minorities with his comments

Most Read