Jan. 13, 2023
By Dana Treier
At this time last year, junior Michelle Boinett was living in Nairobi, Kenya. Now, Boinett–who immigrated to the United States in September–is LHS’ reigning poetry slam winner.
On Dec. 23, she took home first place out of 33 poets for her poem titled “Superhero,” which she presented at the 13th Annual Winter Poetry Slam in the media center.
Boinett is new to the school, but she is an experienced poet, as she started composing poetry as a child. She said she decided to participate in the poetry slam to test her skills.
“I took the poetry slam as an opportunity to engage with my peers with something I truly love,” Boinett said. “I didn’t expect to take first place in the poetry slam, let alone in my first poetry slam.”
Boinett said the poem she presented is about a teenager who feels overwhelmed with the world around her. This causes her to turn to her mother for support.
Boinett said the message she sought to convey is that people should value their parents.
“They love you, and everything they are doing is for your best,” Boinett said.
Junior Rola Mustafa, who earned first place at last year’s Winter Poetry Slam and placed second at last year’s Spring Poetry Slam, took home a second place award for her poem “Bubble of Privilege,” which addressed human rights violations across the world.
“I wrote the poem to not only open up everybody’s eyes but my own too,” Mustafa said. “We often put ourselves in a bubble to ignore all of the horrible things happening around the world, and we choose to be ignorant.”
Mustafa said she enjoyed hearing her peers present at the slam.
“There were so many new people,” Mustafa said. “It’s always fun to hear new poems from new people. It’s so amazing when people can make poetry so unique.”
“The people in the room were very supportive, and they reacted to all of the poems that were being shared.”
Sophomore Angelina Brennen took home third place for her poem “Who am I?”
“[My poem] is about growing up in an Italian-Irish American family,” Brennen said. “It is also about striving to be perfect in a world where perfection is demanded.”
This was Brennen’s first poetry slam, and she said it will not be her last.
“It is a great experience, and you get to share your art with people that will really appreciate it,” Brennen said. “The people in the room were very supportive, and they reacted to all of the poems that were being shared.”
In addition to the top three awards, the faculty judging panel recognized sophomore Drew Bancroft, junior Ava Bruzzio, junior Camille Echols, freshman Joely Ferreras and sophomore Jason Oliveira with honorable mention awards.
Oliveira’s poem “Did it happen?” addressed his experiences with sexual abuse.
“I wanted to write this poem as a way to express my feelings [and] reach out to… those who have sadly been in similar situations,” Oliveira said.
He said he felt comfortable sharing his personal experiences since other poets were doing the same.
“We were all in one room… and shared our own feelings with everyone else, and that is beautiful,” Oliveira said.
Oliveira, a first-time poetry slam participant, said he felt reassured by his honorable mention award because it meant he successfully reached others with his poetry.
“I struggle… to communicate and put my thoughts and emotions into words, so to win an honorable mention means a lot,” Oliveira said. “It does tell me that my poem did have an impact [on] people.”
English teacher Mrs. Falco, who has been on the judging panel since the first Winter Poetry Slam in 2010, said this poetry slam was one of the hardest to judge because many of the poems addressed serious topics.
“All participants are recognized for their brave generosity in sharing their poems with their peers and their teachers,” Falco said.
She said she hopes more students consider participating in LHS’ semiannual poetry slams because poetry is a way for students to express themselves.
“The poetry slam is a safe space for all to open up about things they would perhaps otherwise not discuss,” Falco said. “When students have a safe place to share their innermost thoughts and emotions with others, that is truly a powerful experience for everyone in attendance.”