Spoken Word annual showcase perserveres virtually


On Dec. 9, Spoken Word held its annual winter showcase. Even in a worldwide pandemic, the showcase continued to allow OPRF poets to perform their poetry. Since its inception in the late ‘90s, Spoken Word has been a cornerstone of OPRF. An extremely popular community in the school, having almost 100 members last year, Spoken Word has become a home away from home for many OPRF students.
The winter showcase was as creatively done as it was historic. The event was a webinar which consisted of various prerecorded poems and raps performed by both small groups and individuals. For poems performed by small groups of students, the students’ poetry videos were arranged neatly in a grid design similar to the intro to “The Brady Bunch.”
There were some instances where poets in small groups spoke in unison and their voices were not always perfectly aligned, making it difficult to make out the words. Despite this, the showcase still held the energy and performance quality typical of an in-person Spoken Word event.
Junior Jalen Sharp, who raps under the name JSteezzy, has been in Spoken Word since he was a freshman. “The crowd was great. The vibes were great. It was fun,” Sharp said. “The energy of the crowd during the showcase was amazing.”
While the showcase had its fair share of issues adjusting to a virtual environment, Sharp says there were some aspects of the virtual scene that enhanced the showcase. “I found that it being virtual was actually very good. (It) helped us to get worldwide to people in different countries in different states and different cities.” Families from all over the world were able to tune into the showcase in a way that could not have been possible during a physical event.
Spoken Word doesn’t just allow students to sharpen their poetry, members say it provides an extremely welcoming environment: “Room 375 (the SW office) was somewhere I could be comfortable. Somewhere I can just be me” Sharp said. “(In spoken word) It’s okay for you to be vulnerable. It’s okay to cry in front of us. We love everyone, even if you never want to come back, you know, we still welcome you… It would be fair to say spoken word has become my home away from home.” Sharp said.
His feelings are echoed by others in spoken word. Senior Allen White, who has been in the club since said that Spoken Word “is probably the one place that you can easily fit yourself into and the one where you will 100% be accepted.” White said.
Everyone has an interesting story to tell, and poetry can help people learn how to tell their story. “Everyone no matter who they are, they always have something interesting about themselves. Nothing will make you realize that you actually have a pretty decent voice more than Spoken Word,” White added.
Alani Espinosa is a junior and member of Spoken Word. “People’s conception of poetry is that it is just ‘I’m sad and I’m sad.’ There’s a good amount of poetry that is about things in that area but we also find a lot of people who are really good at writing comedic poetry, and a lot of people who write very, very optimistic and inspiring poetry,” Espinosa said. “Poetry is one of those things where it is up to you what it becomes.”
Poetry is not merely rhyming words either. “There is sort of a preconception of what poetry looks like. That everything has to rhyme and all that, in this club there’s really no definition, there’s no limit to what your poetry can look like.” Espinosa said.
The Spoken Word showcase showed what can happen when students are allowed to express the purest form of themselves. Although this year’s showcase was virtual, it still had the same impact. “It was one of those once in a lifetime kind of experiences, because not many people are putting on poetry showcases online right now and I think that a lot of people came together and pulled off really incredible pieces and the stories that people told were very unique to this time. I thought it was a wonderful experience.” Espinosa said.