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Poetry everywhere

January 12, 2010

Every lunchtime, around 12:15PM, a motley crew of high school students, a  memory-deficient director and an arts’ coordinator of unconquerable patience gather for a few minutes rehearsal.  Yes, we’re preparing our spoken-word performance for Friday night’s Arts for Martin event.   I now realize that it’s an awful long time since I’ve memorized a poem, even one of only 16 lines like Invictus and I’m more than a little daunted at the prospect of performing on Friday night.

Still, it’s a great poem and worth the effort.   Brought to fame recently by the Clint Eastwood movie of the same name, Invictus is the poem that apparently gave solace and hope to Nelson Mandela during his 27 year period of solitary confinement.  The poem has a marvelously stirring rhythm and defiant message.   A quick google search informed me that Invictus was penned by English poet William Ernest Henley who suffered his own trials and tribulations, including having his leg amputated.   

A poetry theme has emerged at our school this year.  In addition to the hugely successful Vasquez residency and Poetry Slam, a Poetry Out Loud Seminar is currently underway.   This project is the result of an initiative by Scott and Bob.   Poetry Out Loud is a competition sponsored by the Minnesota State Arts Board.   As it states on the MSAB website… “Through Poetry Out Loud, high school students learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. They also master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.”     Students chose a poem to memorize and perform.   ARTech will host it’s school competition on January 26.  From there, students compete at regional, state and even national level.   

On Friday evening at 7PM a plethora of performing artists will gather to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King.   I do hope you will be able to join us.   Click here to read a Northfield News article previewing Arts for Martin and a celebration organized by the Northfield Human Rights Commission.

Now, excuse me while I go back to the task of poetry memorization.   Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit, from pole to pole…


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