This past Saturday, when Bucharest froze, a group of AISB juniors and seniors, together with some teachers and parents, gathered at a cozy cafe to celebrate an exciting form of art: Spoken Word Poetry.

The event took place at Seneca Anticafe near Kiseleff, the ideal place to host an intimate poetry event like this. With lots of pillows and low lighting, the atmosphere allowed the students– appropriately dressed in all black–to artfully express their thoughts out loud.

The group with their leader, Miss Sorrell.

AISB teacher and leader of this initiative Kate Sorrell, explains that “Spoken word poetry is a particular form of poetry that is a very personal one and often deals with a social issue, a passion, a worry or a concern.” She adds that, “It allows the speaker to really think about how it makes them feel, what they want to argue for, or make the audience feel. Performance poetry has a real effect on the audience because it is poetry that is meant to be performed.”

This is the first year such an event was organized by AISB. “I am really passionate about this kind of poetry and this kind of event,” says Sorrell. “I’ve wanted to run it for a few years now. I hope that this is the start of a yearly recurring thing that can grow at AISB.” 

Alex Sota performing.

Despite the slippery conditions, the student poets still had a very receptive audience. And with varying levels of experience, the students put on a great show, and seemed to enjoy taking part in this event.

As mentioned by Sota, at the beginning of his own inspiring performance: “The beauty of spoken word is that all the words we speak are a part of us–they convey feelings we had when we wrote them. And whether we believe that art reflects life or life reflects art, we are all artists and I thank you for sharing your words with us.”

Six juniors and one senior, along with Mr. Sota, performed their original pieces for the small crowd. Everyone was satisfied with their final poems however, each student went through a different journey to get there. Below, all of the student participants shared their thoughts on this experience:

Teodora, Grade 11

Writing Process: “The writing process wasn’t very hard; and for me it happened very quickly. When we had our workshop, we were all in the same room and it just felt like a creative space so we had a lot of ideas flowing.”

Overall Experience: “This experience really helped me because I have stage fright and I always get very nervous when it gets to presenting or talking in front of people. I would really recommend this to people that feel the same way as I do because it really helped me overcome my fear. Furthermore, you really create a connection with the people that you do this with, even though everything happened in a short amount of time, because you get to evolve and put your trust in them while practicing together.”

Maria, Grade 11

Why this event: “I’ve written a few poems as a child. They weren’t very good but it was fun to write them. When I heard of this event, I was very excited because I had the chance to work under the supervision of a professional, who can guide me throughout this process and give me feedback on how to improve the poetry.”

Writing Process: “For me, I felt that the writing process was pretty straightforward. I knew what I wanted to say with this poem from the beginning and I already had a section of it written in Romanian. Therefore, I just translated those verses and then build my poem from it. I was able to finish it from my first workshop.”

Overall experience: “I would love to repeat this experience in the future. Writing a poem is really fun and it’s sort of therapeutic in the sense of you go through the feelings you’ve had for a long time and you just put them in writing. I would recommend this experience to other people because even if you don’t like writing there is always something you want to say without knowing. If you do like writing, this is also a nice way to get some feedback and to  learn how to perform in the best way.”

Umay, Grade 11

Poem: “My poem is about the struggles of a young caterpillar as it goes through the journey of becoming a beautiful butterfly. Even though I wrote the poem in Turkish, I hope that the audience was able to pick up the emotions and the feelings I wanted to convey.”

Writing Process: “This was the first time that I wrote a poem and I have to admit, it was really hard. However by the end, I was satisfied with it. I also shared it with my family and I only got positive feedback.”

Sophie, Grade 11

Why this event: “I enjoy poetry very much and appreciate every opportunity the school gives us in which we are allowed to channel our creativity into something beautiful.”

What inspired this poem: “As most of us are aware, most of the news these days is about the one who Trumps them all. I wanted to give my opinion on certain topics of his presidency that I feel strong about and thought that the ‘America without the Dream’ suited this well.”

Writing process: “I was looking for a topic which was personal to me but at the same time something with a political connotation. This is how I came up with ‘The American Dream.’ As soon as I got the idea, I started to play around with it and it all worked out.”

Overall Experience: “I would definitely repeat the experience if I had more time. I would also recommend it to anyone because you can write in any poetic style about any topic for how long you want.”

HuanHuan, Grade 11

Writing process: “Writing the poem was a bit hard at the beginning; however, the workshop we had with Miss Sorell was very helpful.”

Poem: “My poem is about a dream that can overcome all difficulties and struggles. However, in reality, it’s impossible.”

Overall experience: “This was a very interesting experience, worth repeating, and I would recommend it to anyone. Since I am a shy person, this experience was therapeutic in the sense that I spoke my thoughts in front of a group of people.”

Malina, Grade 11

Why this event: “I’ve never done spoken word besides little stand-up comedy sketches and my poetic experience has been thus far limited to angsty love poems. I thought this might be an interesting opportunity to learn something new and step out of the fabled comfort zone.”

Writing Process: “The writing process was relaxing and hard at the same time. The most difficult part was coming up with a cohesive topic that felt authentic to my life experiences. Everyone wants to strike that balance between saying something to obvious and not making it too personal because I wouldn’t be 100% comfortable with that. In the end, it was enjoyable because I got to flex my creative muscles and look for various words as well as interesting figures of speech.”

Overall experience: “Absolutely. The beautiful thing about spoken word poetry is that you are not constrained by normal norms of poetry where you have to respect all those things such as rhythm, meter, structure, verses. There is also this degree of roleplay involved because you always have to think: are you going to speak about your personal experiences, are you going to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Overall, I would definitely repeat this experience. It’s a nice way to spend your time, rather than just stay in bed and do nothing.”

Ana, Grade 12

Why this event: “I am a young aspiring writer and, as of this moment, a student. I’ve been passionate about words my whole life, initially passively until I’ve had the realisation that this is truly what I want to do.”

Poem: “The inspiration that I had for this poem is some feelings I’ve had that needed to be let out in order to make peace with.”

Writing Process: “I’ve been writing poems for two years now. On Wednesday I started a poem, but when I got home I realized that it wasn’t good enough. I started going through my old works and I found one that wasn’t finished. It only had a few verses so I just continued that one and it turned out to be amazing. It took me about 4-5 hours in different days because I had to take breaks in order to make sure it would turn out to be a good poem.”

Overall experience:  “I would definitely repeat the experience. I also enjoyed the fact that we had a very nice and cozy venue, outside of school; it just gave me a good vibe. Anyone should try this experience in the next years.”

Thanks to Ms. Sorrell and all of the students for sitting down with us. Another big thank you to Mr. Erik Peterson for the pictures. We’re looking forward to next year’s event!