Poetry Not Loud


A list of students are displayed for one of their coffee house performance events, this one being from 2013. “There was another club that happened years ago, called Coffee House, and it was an after school club that met once a week or so, and I was a coordinator, or an advisor for it for two years.” Shannon Casey said.

Blake Zimmermann

Poetry events at Sehome have been silent over the past two years, as some seniors and juniors may recall who experienced these events for the last time in their 2016-2017 school year. Without any any reasoning for this omission, some students may have wondered what happened to these kinds of events. The two main events happened during English classes and outside of school hours as an extracurricular activity.

Poetry Out Loud is an international event in which students around the world compete for prizes ranging from poetry books for their schools to cash. Bellingham held it at a local level and then students could participate and move on to different levels of the competition.

“We had several people who took the responsibility of organizing and coordinating and making that run. So I know that Laura Pitts was a teacher here for a very long time, and she was a coordinator, and she was assisted by Ms. Casey,” Steven Terreri, a previous judge of the Poetry Out Loud event, said.

The other event poetry was one without an official name and multiple English classes around the Bellingham School District participated in it during class. This specific event was arranged by a now retired Squalicum teacher.

“He would bring in an Irish poet, Tony, I want to say Snow but I don’t think that’s it. He would bring him in and then each school would get him for an auditorium kind of performance during a period, where English teachers could bring their students in,” Terreri said.  “And so, it was basically a ‘hang-out’ with a poet. The guy was absolutely entertaining and he was fascinating.”

When asked about if the events could be brought back, Terreri said, “I would try to support it in any way I could, but still that is a lot of coordination to get the different poems that kids are performing, to set up an audience, to bring in snacks and things, and to run the program, so it does ask a lot for a teacher who wants to stand up and say, ‘yeah I’ll do this.’”

Another way that students had expressed their interest in poetry is through the old Coffee House club, which ran in years prior. In these events, students used to perform poetry along with other forms of performable art.

“Every two or three times a semester the students would have a venue at school where it would be spoken word poetry, people would play music, people would recite other oral artworks and things like that,” Shannon Casey said, a previous coordinator and advisor for that club. “It was a really great event, and a lot of fun, we need to get that back, especially with the new school here.”

Students at Sehome have shown mixed responses when asked about having events like these occur again. Some even have a specific distaste for poetry.

“Well, you see, poetry involves the repetition of words. However, without a strong base, it’s just the repetition of words. In other words, it’s just worse music” Jerome Gangle (9) said.

But on the other hand, some students expressed much excitement over an event like this occurring.

“I would love to [participate in a poetry event], but I’m super busy, so only if I could fit it into my schedule,” Lainie Mueller (11) said.

With enough student enthusiasm such as this, teachers may find the inspiration to start events like this back up again. Do you wish to see poetry events return to Sehome? Let your teacher know, and some day that may change in your favor.