Three students from the TPHS Spoken Word Club, as well as other students from around San Diego County, attended and performed at the annual California Association of Teachers of English Conference on Mar. 9 to discuss topics using spoken word performances.
Started by Robin Kong (‘17), in her sophomore year, the Spoken Word Club allows students to learn and express the form of poetry known as spoken word.
“Spoken word is a mixture of poetry and the art of performing,” Lisa Callender, the faculty adviser of the club, said. “It can oftentimes be a lot more rhythmic, but it’s enjoyable because it has the art of performance in it other than just the poetry itself.”
To Eugene Park (12), one of the members of the club who spoke at the CATE conference, spoken word is not only a form of poetry but a way to connect with others on a deeper level.
“Spoken word, in terms of the artistic side of it as well as the community building side of it, in both ways builds bridges,” Park said. “It is a way to help people understand each other and get different viewpoints. It is a much more approachable and accessible way to understand other people.”
A former Spoken Word club president and Carlsbad High School alumnus, Quinn Lozar, created a coalition of poetry clubs throughout San Diego called Inverse. Through this union, the TPHS Spoken Word Club connected with Viet Mai, a renowned poet, who asked a small group of poets ranging from sixth grade to seniors in high school to perform at the conference.
From TPHS, these poets included Hannah Berman-Schneider (12), Jenna Howard (12) and Park.
While Park reformed a poem that he had previously written about his family’s emotional move from Florida, Berman-Schneider chose to write about writing and how high schoolers utilize the skill to express themselves.
“My poem was about empowering yourself through writing and accepting yourself through writing,” Berman-Schneider said. “A lot of us put up walls and ironically use our writing to put up these walls. Spoken word allows you tear down these walls and discover more about yourself as you share your writing.”
The writers performed in a room filled with about 350 English teachers and educators from around California.
Berman-Schneider was the second performance of the event, while Park followed.
“I forgot about the fact that I had to go because I had been listening to all of the amazing poets speak,” Park said. Although the performance itself was an incredible moment for him, Park believes that the best part of the poem is after the performance.
“After, you get to talk to people and see people react and just learn exactly how you affected the audience,” Park said.
After the showcase, many teachers came up to the TPHS members of Spoken Word to personally tell them how their poetry impacted them, according to Berman-Schneider.
“A couple of [teachers] came up to us afterward and said to us, ‘I can’t believe you guys do this.’ One of the teachers even said to me, ‘I’m going to show this to my students,’” Berman-Schneider said. “Not only did we affect those 350 people in that room, but our poems are reaching children going through the exact same things, all over the state.”
Reaching out to people in events like the CATE Conference and open mic events are some of the ways the Spoken Word Club is attempting to attract new members.
If you are interested in joining or going to a Spoken Word meeting, the club meets every Tuesday at lunch in Room 205.
Photo by Anna Jeong/Falconer
Speaking from the heart: Jenna Howard (12) performs at the California Association of Teachers of English Conference. TPHS’ Spoken Word Club was first founded by Robin Kong (‘17) in 2014 (ABOVE).