Spoken Word fall showcase captivates crowd

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Spoken Word club logo

Anticipation filled the air of the Little Theater on Nov. 15 as the Spoken Word Club members gathered on stage for their fall showcase.

Club sponsor Adam Levin checked the mics as parents, siblings and friends of the poets filtered in. The performers sat in chairs on the stage, each group wearing coordinating outfits. Levin and fellow club sponsor Noelle Aiisa Berry introduced themselves and the showcase before encouraging the audience to make as much noise as possible.

The pieces covered topics like adolescence, mental health and the harms of smoking. Lines like, “Pain is the best teacher right?” and “emotion is temporary,” specifically stood out. After each striking line, snapping could be heard throughout the audience.

This year is the first year after COVID-19 that the club is putting together three showcases compared to only two. Groups are assigned and then they get to work. The theme of this showcase was how we heal, a pertinent subject in this tumultuous world. Groups were given around one to two months to write their poems, work on movement and vocal intonation.

The day prior to the performance, the club conducted a mic test as 30 to 40 club members sat reading their pieces and discussing their days with their peers. Berry introduced the rehearsal, making sure each group member was in attendance. The sound and lighting crew made their final adjustments as Berry tested each mic.

“The mic only gives what you give it,” Berry said. She then continued to go over microphone etiquette and how not to damage the equipment in preparation for the next day’s show.

Simon Gutierrez joined Spoken word as a freshman, and now in his junior year is a captain. As a captain students are given more responsibility and control over the direction of each piece. When Gutierrez was in seventh grade the previous Spoken Word director, Peter Kahn, conducted a poetry unit at the middle schools. “I had a really good time writing, and he said he really enjoyed my work,” Gutierrez said.

His freshman year Kahn then encouraged him to come to a Spoken Word meeting. Gutierrez didn’t attend. “Mr. Kahn sends me an email and he’s like, ‘Was hoping to see you maybe next week’, and I was like, ‘Oh shoot all right, guess I’ll go,’” he said.

Gutierrez then started going to each week’s meetings. The biggest draw for him was the people. “I love the people that I have met through this program and the experiences I have had have been so beneficial,” Gutierrez said.

Senior Anabel Govea began spoken word her freshman year and is now considered a veteran within the program. She was introduced to Spoken Word by her older brother. “I got to see his showcases, and I was like ‘dang I really want to be in that community,’” she said.

The friendly, collaborative feeling is evident as soon as one enters a Spoken Word meeting. “We are a weird bunch, but we are all weird together and in our own way,” Govea said, adding that the opportunity to write collaboratively also drew her into the program.

“It (Spoken Word) taught me to be such a good writer,” she said. “After writing your poem sometimes you don’t like it but you just have to move on with it.” She mentioned a graduated veteran telling her, “Your piece is never done.”

Freshman Janiah Watson joined this year and is considered a rookie. Similar to Gutierrez, Watson became interested in the program after the new sponsor Adam Levin visited her class. Being a rookie comes with the fear of getting on stage and baring one’s soul and deepest emotions for the audience. “I think about the fact that I’m not the only one up there and not the only one speaking,” Watson said.

At the performance, the audience showed its appreciation through applause and cheering before and after each performance.

After the final act the audience gave their final applause for the performers and club sponsors. While most of the audience exited the theater, some stayed behind to congratulate the poets. Levin expressed relief that the showcase went well and said he appreciated the positive energy that surrounded the evening.

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