A microphone, a teenager and an audience can produce some interesting results.
In the four weeks following spring break at Golden Gate High School, an event called Open-Mic Poetry Friday floods a corner of the library with these results during lunches. More than 100 students crowd tables and jockey for position in the first two rows of bookshelves to catch the verse and prose of their classmates.
Faith, self-discovery, race, politics and, of course, love are common subjects. The expressions are as diverse as the participants. As one student may rap about his conservative ideology, another contemplates her place in life.
“Some jocks are so tough but when they come here they are so soft and cute,” said senior Jessica Edmond, 18, this year’s master of ceremonies.
Edmond said the poetry jam has become a phenomenon of expression among her classmates.
“All week it buzzes. You can be yourself when you come here,” she said.
An athlete who regularly pours his heart into the microphone is senior Remy Lory, 19. Remy was the goalie of the varsity soccer team this year.
“It relieves a stress out of me. It makes me feel relieved after I am done. It takes a lot out of someone to get up there and go in front of your peers,” said Remy.
A book fair held earlier this year provided money to buy pizza, drinks and dessert for the students.
All eyes are on the student baring their soul into the microphone. Snapping fingers in the air are signs of respect at the end of each reading.
On May 7, sophomore Elif Yildiz’s eyes were barely visible from behind the shaking paper she read. Her poem was an ode to a life-long friend. As the crowd erupted in support, Elif took her seat, the fear replaced with a beaming smile of accomplishment and pride, pictured above.
The next presenter, senior Bianca Marc, belted out the first poem she ever wrote. It was about a boy she was crazy about in sixth grade. But, don’t worry, she said.
“He doesn’t go to this school.”
Media specialist Veronica Perinon, the organizer of the event, is in her fifth year at Golden Gate High School. She said the poetry is a healthy conduit for adolescent energy that could otherwise turn negative.
“The emotions that they have as teenagers makes this a good outlet for them. They need this outlet to share what they are thinking about. To express themselves in a creative way,” she said.
Perinon found “a real gem” to end this school year’s Poetry Fridays. The final presenter was 15-year-old Noblay Deus. The freshman was new to the school, having emigrated from Haiti six months prior — two months before the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince. He spent three weeks writing, translating into English and practicing his poem, “I Am Afraid.”
“I am afraid the time is passing, like a parade into my life. ... I am so scared of tomorrow, of what I will become. ... They always tell me, don’t think about tomorrow. Let life take its course. How could I? ... Moving forward, I can’t, for my heart is breaking. ... The one who made me suffer now I am waiting for his time.”