Poetic Ramblings recently teamed up with the Devils’ Playlist to host a poetry and music open mic night in an effort to raise money for the English Department Scholarship Fund. Students had the opportunity to share their original work for an audience of peers and parents, highlighting student talent that is not typically recognized. Caroline Coveno, BHS senior, cited that aspect as what made the event so memorable: “It was awesome to see classmates performing, and doing what they excel at. I didn’t know all those kids could write and sing the way they did.” That sentiment was one echoed by many audience members.
In addition to promoting student talent, the event also served to promote a sense of community at BHS. Many students chose to perform poems and songs that reflect their personal identity and their culture. From freshman Neil Pandit’s tabla performance to senior Nora Swanson’s recitation of a favorite Swedish poem, students chose to share parts of their background that are important to them. This act of sharing created a sense of belonging while also acknowledging what makes each student unique. In response to Swanson’s recitation, classmate Caroline Morison stated, “It was so cool to hear her poem in Swedish and then hear the translation. I didn’t know she could speak Swedish.” Others had a similar reaction to the surprise of learning new aspects of their peers’ lives and personalities. Because the event developed a safe space, the students also used the night as an opportunity to voice concerns about how their culture is viewed by the community. By using music and poetry as the vehicle for this voice, students allowed audience members to gain a sense of perspective and understanding of others’ experiences. Parents in attendance commented on the importance of having that outlet, and acknowledged the students’ courage in sharing and ability to prompt thought and discussion.
The student emcees, Lorraine Kanyike and Jhymon Moodie, kept the pace fast and the energy fresh. Stage crew members Jessica Gavin, Connor Pustizzi, and Jennifer Reale ensured the event ran smoothly – working the sound board and running lights. Without the expertise of the students behind the curtain, in the booth, and on the stage, this event would never have happened. Nights like this serve as a reminder of the many ways students at BHS learn and the varied skills they develop through school programs.
Closing the night’s performances was a recently assembled musical trio – Ryan Ostlund, Allison Ritwegger, and Caleb Toews. They performed a cover of a Hozier song as if they had been rehearsing together all year, not just for a few days. It was a great way to end the night.
Poetic Ramblings members used the event as practice for the state-wide youth poetry slam competition, Louder Than a Bomb. Although they certainly got in the practice they needed, they also left the night feeling empowered by the space and energy they helped to create at BHS.