Student Poets Showcase the Write Stuff

After putting the proverbial pen to paper, student poets were performance ready for the Outspoken event at Estherwood Mansion last month. The annual event is a showcase of poems written and performed by Outspoken, the student-directed spoken word performing arts group led by co-presidents Lilith Leys ’22, Dani Appiah ’22 and Finn Alexander ’22 with guidance from faculty advisor and upper school English teacher Miriam Emery.

With close to 100 in attendance, it was a true celebration for the 11 students who had not had the opportunity to share their writing in person for the past two years. “They met for over a year on Zoom, and were able to meet in person this year,” Emery explained. “This was an opportunity for students who workshop poetry every Monday night together to present and perform their original works.” 

Subjects ranged from the political to the personal. As Leys noted, “We took care to place some of the more thematically heavy poems towards the middle of the event, and flanking them with lighter, more joyful ones.”

Leys opened the showcase with “River Round My Neck,” which she described as being about “the ever-present fixture of time, and using a running river as a metaphor for the sense of loss that comes with moving forward constantly.”

“If My Eyes Had Seen Thus Far” was one of two poems Appiah performed. “It was about some thoughts I had about the idea of exploration during colonial times: how people held out hope that there were lands with riches beyond the horizon and claimed lands that weren't theirs, as well as the lies and half-truths that explorers told.” 

A beaming Emery cheered the students every step of the way. “The students do an incredible job supporting each other, workshopping poems and critiquing one another,” she said. “It’s very different to see and hear someone perform and present a poem than it is to hear a poem being read off a piece of paper behind a podium.”

The excitement and energy from the audience inspired the poets. With Graduation approaching, Leys shared that “Getting one last hurrah before leaving the School was fantastic for me and all of the other seniors.”