You might say I’m a bit of a poet.
I’ve read and written poetry for much of my life, but rarely enjoyed studying it in school. Analyzing the poems assigned by my English teachers bored me or spoiled my enjoyment of the poems. For the record, I value this kind of analysis! But in those particular circumstances, I started to find poetry stiff and inaccessible.
That is, until some of my high school English teachers started bringing in examples of spoken word poetry. That was the energy I’d been missing. Better still, my other classmates engaged with it too. We watched Shane Koyczan and Sarah Kay. My high school had its own haiku death matches and poetry slams. In my last couple years there, I found the courage to get up on stage.
In grade 12, I won a school poetry slam and was featured in my local newspaper. (Also featured in that story was my friend Sharmaine; I highly recommend reading the excerpt of her poem, “Beyoncé.”) Participating in slams was one of the great joys of my high school life. I liked being on stage and expressing myself in my own words, but most of all, I loved the exchanges that happened afterwards. Poets and audience members mingled, reciting their favourite lines and thanking the people who wrote them.
While I haven’t been in a slam since then, I still have a fondness for spoken word. I’ve included a couple of my poems below. To see more slams from high school and keep up with any future writing, you can check out my poetry playlist on YouTube.