poetryN.O.W. hosted its annual youth poetry slam and festival at George Mason University this past weekend, and I was able to attend for the first time with a student and her dad. The organization was started by an English teacher and a forensics coach at Hayfield Secondary in 2010. Its website explains that poetryN.O.W.
is a Northern Virginia based organization that assists schools in developing their own poetry programs, programs that focus on creative writing and performance, but also on the use of the power of art and testimony to bridge the gap between students from all walks of life.
I got to spend the day with students from all over the DMV and their committed, talented mentors and was moved – as an English teacher, as a human being – by this community’s faith in art’s power and the power of their own voices. Their performances grappled with both personal pain and social injustice at the same time that they suggested resilience and an unyielding vision that things could – and should – be different. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ words to his son Samori came to mind as I drove home:
I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.
The young poets at the Hyper Bole asked each of us to join them as conscious citizens of this terrible and beautiful world, and it’s a testament to their craft that so many of us found ways out of the comfort and security and complicity of our own dreams.
Here are some photos from the day. You can find more on social media; attendees were encouraged to use the hashtag #hyperbole2016 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:
Tessa is working hard to start a poetry club at Loudoun School. We hope to show up in full force at next year’s Hyper Bole.