Poets inspire student voice and creativity at poetry workshops

Story by Kimberly Hsueh and Haelee Kim
Staff Writers

Photo by Sean Jin
Staff Photographer

The Spoken Literature Art Movement (SLAM) visited English classes on Thursday, Feb. 27 and Friday, Feb. 28, bringing professional poets to inspire students to express their creative freedom as apart of its poetry education and workshop program. Founder of the program, Alyesha Wise, returned to SPHS after previously presenting at the annual Tiger Reads assembly in the fall with fellow poet Matthew “Cuban” Hernandez.

Poets part of the SLAM program hosted workshops throughout the day for all grade levels, with Wise and poet Edwin Bodney heading 11th grade regular English classes. 

Bodney led the class with a couple of ice breakers, before launching into the planned exercises. He encouraged students to write down the name of a color on a piece of paper, which proceeded with the brainstorming of a dozen words associated with the aforementioned color. Bodney then used his skills to spontaneously construct short poems using one of these words.

Wise then took the stage, inviting students to share their hastily crafted poems with the class. Subjects ranged from simple ideas like kettle, bike, bread. Wise and Bodney hyped the contributions of the volunteers, further inducing laughter with their fun antics.

Bodney transitioned into the next part of the slam, reading “An Experiment in Noise in A Sharp Major” by Ken Arkind. Student insight into the reading was welcome, which juniors Arlo Stark Hansen, Carrie Fleming, and Andrew Kim took advantage of by debating about the message and interspersed metaphors.

Wise and Bodney also emphasized the importance student voice, encouraging students to use sentence stems that could be used to begin their own poems. Some included, “What I don’t say..”, “I am heard best when..”, and “My power lines within…”

“South Pasadena is a highly resourced school so I know that the students who go here are very bright and talented individuals,” Bodney said. “There was a lot of good contribution and dialogue that happened in the process of creating poetry here.”

Part of an ongoing slam poetry circuit at SPHS, SLAM plans to host future workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday from Mar. 17-18.

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