Expressing Your Voice

Sarah Wallis, Student Life

Have you ever performed in front of people? Do you get nervous? On Wednesday, December 2, Flatline Poetry came to Ipswich High School and shared their love of poetry with the students, staff, and faculty through an emotional performance of slam poetry.   In addition to their show, they broke off into workshops and went to first and fourth period classes to do mini-lessons on performance poetry with some English students. Flatline Poetry expressed their personal emotions with powerful statements and strong words. It was a memorable experience for many students.

Flatline poetry is a group of poets who write their own poems and perform them in front of hundreds. Their poems express how they feel and their opinions on many things. The performance in the PAC gave many of people the chills. Our school is participating in a worldwide contest on spoken poetry. This contest is called Poetry Out Loud. Flatline gave us an awesome lesson and show on how to perform.

After interviewing a dedicated poet of Flatline poetry, Lewis explains that he uses poetry in a therapeutic way, which may be a bit different than how most people would expect poetry to be used. Instead of getting angry because of his personal problems, he uses poems and poetry reading to work through the difficulties that he has to deal with. Lewis explains that, “Poetry is not elite; everyone can do it.” Some people may be afraid to perform in front of others; it just may not be their ‘thing’ for whatever reason, or it may be because they were never exposed to the positive side of poetry. Lewis insists that everyone should just try to read or write a poem at least once though. He taught in the mini-lessons that poems can often be meaningful and have a true purpose and strong, sometimes controversial topics can openly be discussed through poetry.

When the IHS student body was informed about the Poetry Out Loud program, students were obviously a bit nervous about the idea of everyone having to participate. Just the thought of reciting a poem in front of a whole class of your peers was enough to frighten students, while the thought of performing in front of the entire school was downright terrifying. Mrs. Slawson brought Flatline Poetry to our school in the hopes of inspiring us for our poetry competition. She went to a festival in Salem which is where she first saw Flatline perform. In an interview, Mrs. Slawson explains,  “I loved their passion for poetry and the energy they had. I wanted to share that with the rest of the school.”

Flatline really got IHS in the right state of mind for Poetry Out Loud. Abby Potter (a second place winner) explains how nervous she got before performing in front of her poetry class. After picking a poem, she spent hours rehearsing it until perfection. Abby showed emotion and feelings in her performance.

Overall, between the Poetry Out Loud and Flatline poetry programs, students at IHS have learned and experienced a lot, all while stepping out of their usual comfort zones. The entire poetry experience brought students together to overcome what many believed they would not have been able to do. Many students have changed their opinions on poetry, have gained new confidence in public speaking skills, and learned to love the beautiful art of poetry.