A Personal Account of Performing Poetry on Black History Month in Front of the Whole School

My senior year of high school and I still felt like a freshman. The typical freshman vibe of not fitting in due to the fact that I was a new kid in school and the majority of people had been there since junior kindergarten. These four years at Cannon School have been an emotional rollercoaster. Due to the fact that I couldn’t find any friends for the first two years. I thought that I would find a group that I could hang out with but, it didn’t seem like I was fitingt into any of the cliques.

I had trouble maintaining good grades and overall, I was dealing with loss in my family and depression. As a last ditch effort to be more outgoing in high school, I decided to go to the black history performance interest meeting. The performance was about a month away. This meeting was a student led interest meeting we’re we all thought of what we wanted to do. I thought for a few minutes to see what I would feel comfortable doing.

Since the only place I felt comfortable at school was in my poetry class. I decided to do poetry since that is one of the few things that I felt like I was good at, poetry at the time gave me a since of security and taught me how to be confident in my own skin, it was helping me become comfortable in my own voice. The only problem with this was I had never performed any of my poems in front of anyone before. Deciding to perform poetry in front of my school soon became one of the most important days of my life.

After the meeting two weeks had passed and I still wasn’t able to come up with any ideas for the poem. Staying up late night after late night. Writing version after version of what I thought would be the “perfect” poem. Every idea that sprung into my mind was quickly scrapped. The words that I wrote down didn’t feel right. They didn’t feel like they were a part of me. I wanted to connect to the audience in a way that they would remember. I started to think about my four years at Cannon School.

Specifically, I thought about the freshmen beach trip that every freshmen experiences. I thought about how much fun we had, and how we all seemed so close knit. We all felt connect like brothers and sisters. Once we had left the beach trip, it seemed like those feelings quickly faded, and people went back into their clique’s. That really hurt me because I found myself left with no one. I quickly grabbed my pen, and some paper and began to write about the experience. The words started flowing as if they were made of water. Before I knew it, I had finally created a draft of a poem that I felt connected to.

A week had passed and the performance was on that Friday. I kept reading over the final draft of the poem. I tried putting more feeling into it as I read from the paper. It was really hard to look at the paper and put some type of emotion into the poem. I saw others practicing there different pieces for their performance by just reading over there paper. It seemed to stiff, too ridgid to read from a piece of paper. I decided to memorize the poem instead.

The night before the performance and I was locked in my room. Standing up and reciting my poem from memory in the mirror, When I finished reciting the poem a smile crept across my face. I knew that I was ready for the performance tomorrow.

The day was finally here. Everyone was back stage getting ready for their act. I felt my heart begin to pump harder and harder. My face was calm but this undertone of nervousness began to creep upon me. I heard my name be called and I left the curtains and walked onto the stage. I looked at all of my peers for a minute before I began my poem. I saw their faces. They waited in anticipation of what my poem was going to be about. I took a deep breath and spoke the begging parts of my poem.

About midway through my poem I noticed something. My voice began to quiver and tears began to roll down my face. Suppressed emotions leaked out into the microphone. The connection between me and the audience was on one accord. They felt how I felt when I spoke into the microphone. The last words left my lips and I looked at the crowed. A roaring standing ovation came from the audience. I smiled a little and bowed before walking backstage.

The next day at school. I walked down the hallways and people who had never talked to me came up and hugged me, and congratulated me. Some people even shared some of their personal experiences that they connected to from my poem. The few friends I had came up to me and pounced on me with bear hugs as they congratulated me. I kind of felt like a rock star for the rest of the day. I walked around with my head a little higher, and a little bit more pep in my step.

This was one of the most important days of my life. Getting up in front of an audience is never easy but, it taught me how to be confident in myself. It taught me to have a since of security that stays with me even to this very day. It taught me how to be comfortable in my own skin. More importantly, it taught me how to be comfortable being…me.

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