By Linda Kor
What began as a way to celebrate the spoken word through poetry readings has now become a celebration of free expression for the students of Holbrook High School.
Faith Caffey and others at the school began Poetry Cafe seven years ago as an idea for her AP English students. “It started out as poetry readings and it’s sort of morphed into this open-mike love of the spoken word,” she said.
The students sit in the darkened library listening and applauding their peers as they perform under a solitary spotlight, in a mood reminiscent of beatnik clubs of the 1960s. “We choose to have this in the library instead of at the performing arts center so we could have a more intimate feel. It’s become a sort of organic free-for-all,” Caffey said.
The cafe is open once a year, all day long in the library, where students sign up for whatever creative self-expression they want to share. Performances included poetry readings, rap, music and even modern dance expressions. Each class period brought a revolving door of students, hundreds of them, who either participated by performing or by supporting their fellow students as observers. “It gives kids a voice who have no other forum. Maybe they’re not into athletics or clubs; this give them a place to stand out,” Caffey explained.
Students who may otherwise appear aloof or shy stepped onto the makeshift stage with low lighting and a background reminiscent of a colorful sidewalk street cafe and are suddenly able to speak their heart, raise their voice in song and share their talents with their peers, receiving warm praise in return.
“It’s really something that the students love,” stated Caffey. The event is organized each year by members of the AP English class, who select a theme and earn funds through snack bar sales that Caffey hopes will allow the event to continue to grow and evolve for years to come.
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By Linda Kor