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

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mayor of Chilliwack says it’s time to have ‘uncomfortable conversations’ about racism

‘It’s past time we listen to those who haven’t been heard, and extend kindness to everyone,’ mayor says

VIDEO: RCMP Emergency Response Team at known drug house in Chilliwack

Armed officers respond to reports of shots, bring in ERT, K-9 unit and spike belt

Highway 1 closed after body found north of Yale

Coroners Service reportedly on the scene, next Drive BC update at noon

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Nurses acknowledged with new scholarship at UFV

Jackie and Dick Newton’s daughter donates to honour nurses who cared for her parents

VIDEO: Learning begins with new indigenous name for Chilliwack school

Stito:s La:lam Toti:lt will open in September 2022 for students from K-8

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Golden Ears park expected to be busy the first camping weekend of season

Campgrounds expected to be full or close to full

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Abbotsford Airshow launching virtual Aerospace Camp

Online S.T.E.M. open to students aged 10 to 15, starts later this summer

Aldergrove man, 60, can ‘finally afford to retire’ after winning $24M in lottery

Ron Cumiskey plans to use the hefty Lotto 6/49 winnings to stay close to home and his daughters

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Teen cashier praised after paying grocery bill for Aldergrove woman

Otter Co-op’s Brooklyn Roberts asked to pay Tamara Smith’s $44 grocery bill after debit card declined

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Most Read