The Seniors Speak Out Loud

The large stage glows under the lights, and suddenly, it’s the students’ turns to shine. Taking turns, each senior English student must verbally present poetry to their classmates. Thanks to senior English teachers Emily Scott and Brian Vanderlaske, this has become an annual event.
Spoken word poetry, as defined by nelson-atkins.org, is poetry specifically designed to be performed. Students in English IV must memorize and perform a spoken word poem in front of an audience.
“Poetry is an essential means of communicating the human experience, and that it is invaluable. This is my way of improving students analytical reading skills and communication skills, but it is also my way of sharing the gift of poetry with them,” Scott said.
Students taking English IV should expect the project. Every senior has been assigned this project for the past three years.
“I have had my students participate in Poetry Out Loud since I began teaching in Goldsboro ten years ago. This is my third year being in charge of it at West Johnston,” Scott said.
The adrenaline rush of performing on stage was both nerve-racking and enlightening.
“I was really nervous at first. I shook a lot, but once I got in front of the microphone, the anxiety disappeared completely,” said senior Taylor Hinson.
Although spoken word poetry is very similar to other types, it has it’s obvious differences.
“I love reading poetry on the page, but there is something so immediate and alive about poetry being spoken. I think it’s a beautiful art form,” Scott said.
The project came with it’s difficulties. In spite of this, Hinson still found it beneficial.
“I enjoyed being on stage in front of people, I really enjoyed the poem and I understood it a lot more,” Hinson said .
The Poetry Out Loud was unlike any other type of English assignment.
“In other projects you just have to know facts, You stand in front of a class and it’s kind of monotone. In this project you could make it your own and add your own tweaks to it,” Hinson said.
According to Scott, the project is well worth it in the grand scheme of things. The project teaches students something they cannot learn anywhere else.
“The very nature of poetry celebrates and plays with language. It is fun to see how poets manipulate things like word-placement and line breaks and the physical appearance of poems on the page,” said Scott. “In spoken word poetry, though, we get the gift of hearing those words come alive. Both means of expression are important and enjoyable.”