Poetry Out Loud

Brave 9th Graders recently took the to the stage for our annual Poetry Out Loud assembly. Read on for poem describing the experience, and be sure to check out the video at the bottom!

Reflection on a Recent Upper School Assembly by John W. Hoy

It may be odd to imagine “poem” as a verb (you poem, I poem, somebody
poems), but it sort of makes sense. Perhaps an English teacher ought to know better,
but I have been altered….by an Upper School assembly.

Some might state,
Poetry Out Loud really ought to be sedate and serious, a formal place
(until the words, those rocketed souls, begin to
laugh and play and pace.)

Who knew? That words would move on their own with maybe half a grip on earth,
but— still, even so, despite that, and yet, with practice—words absolutely do begin
to poem
(words amble off awkwardly, student performers worry,
chase after them)

One half of words build from rock. But dreams dig, too, in forest leaves
and pine straw, snuffling out a last-spring’s wombat wrapper, until one word
(bamboo) squints aloft, sighing here (rill), sighting over there (senseless), or
some new-found downtown (a curve of gold), a phrase finds flavor (an ant
drag), and a new, high-flying plan motivates
(like a petrel on the sea) or otherwise ambulates away
over redbrickcityscapes, joining even more outrageous

Finally, after weeks of practice, nervous worry, hesitation, robotic recitation,
stumbles and sudden emails, last minute details, the moment arrives: the
lights flip on, and
A crowd! Lines! Gems!
Training kicks in, pays off, and student speakers ponder,

Just whose
words are these?—so a new owner, now, can let them
wander, let
them go

Was it Maren or was it Jimmy Santiago Baca who soothed,
I will answer, give you directions,
and let you warm yourself by this fire,
rest by this fire, and make you feel safe?

Did Maya T. or Maya A. marvel as
The city
drags itself awake on
subway straps?

Did Sarah or Claude McKay say,
We will seek the quiet hill
Where towers the cotton tree?

Was it Ella? Or was that Suzanne Buffam who called out,
I have left all the sugar out of the pie.
My rage is a kind of domestic rage.
I learned it from my mother
Who learned it from her mother before her?

Did Avis, or did Paul Muldoon see that,
The hedgehog
Shares its secret with no one.
We say, Hedgehog, come out
Of yourself and we will love you?

Was it not Thomas Hardy but Morgan who sung out,
If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh…?

I am sure I heard Thys, not Samuel Taylor Coleridge, point out,
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree….

What more to know, than Sophie brought to us (not Linda Pastan)?
Happiness. I try to hoist it
on my narrow shoulders again—
a knapsack heavy with gold coins.
I stumble around the house,
bump into things.

I walk the path to Emery
and I, for one, am not the same.
It is a richer journey now,
words stretching out beyond the frame.

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