Photo By: Ciera Pasturel/LAHS Talon
Poet Chinaka Hodge performs a poem about her experiences living in New York at a Writers Week event at Los Altos High School.
The following article appeared in Los Altos High School’s newspaper, The Talon, in an online post March 8.
Los Altos High School’s 28th annual Writers Week, which featured authors of almost every background and genre, ended with “An Evening of Pure Poetry” earlier this month.
Guest poets Paul Flores, Mario Chard, Chinaka Hodge and Amy Glynn Greacen each performed two of their poems and spoke about their experiences as poets. Senior Noah Schramm and sophomore Elizabeth Kristian, winners of the Poetry Slam, also performed their poems.
Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg started the evening by thanking everyone who participated in and made Writers Week possible. Noah then performed a poem he had written for a class assignment. The poem reflected his love of music.
“He’s a saxophone player,” Rosenberg said. “I’m also a saxophone player, so he definitely deserved to win, just on that note alone. But I think if you hear the poem, you’ll understand why the students in the audience and the judges thought it was so amazing.”
Afterwards, prominent “spoken word” performer Flores introduced his poem, “Spanglish.” Flores first asked the audience what their thoughts on Spanglish were, including what they believed it to be. After a little discussion, he launched into song, danced around the stage and flowed into his poem. His poem reflected on his culture and the “in-between” of Spanglish.
“I’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t really care where I’m at when I perform, and I try to turn it all into my own shower or living room or mirror or whatever,” Flores said.
After Flores’ performance, award-winning poet Greacen read a piece written recently, titled “Gravity Is Always Attractive.”
“I don’t normally … read something that I wrote really recently,” Greacen said. “I usually let things kind of cure, like concrete, for a really long time, and I feel like I’m naked on stage for doing this, but I figure, why not?”
Chard, a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, read his poem “Angel” next in a soft tone that heightened the impact of his words on the audience.
Poet and playwright Hodge went last, performing her poem “For Those of You Who Must Know How I Am Doing in New York.”
“New York has this thing every year called ‘winter,’” Hodge said. “Yeah, anti-that. I wrote this poem in the winter of 2004, when all of my best friends were enrolled at UC Santa Cruz and were going surfing at the beach. So, they called me to ask how New York was. Um, well, snot was freezing my scarf to my face, my hair was breaking off ’cause it was so cold, and I was bundled up top to bottom.”
After the performances, the poets discussed their experiences, starting from their earliest memories of poetry to their current hardships as poets. Some of the poets also offered advice to aspiring young writers.
“Read,” Chard said. “Read as old as you can and as new as you can and that will sustain you.”
The guest poets each performed one last poem before Elizabeth performed her winning poem, “Restless.”
“I really enjoyed (the evening),” said audience member Amelia Evard, a senior. “The small turnout was pretty disappointing to see, but it was an absolutely amazing performance. It was exciting to see the school branching out in picking keynote speakers, and I liked the mix of different kinds of poets.”
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