HHS steps up to the mic

“My dear, you are the shining sun,” began the November Open Mic program at HHS. These words, written by HHS junior Mikala Leath to her good friend Raven Harville, are the title of a poem Mikala wrote when Raven was going through a bad time, and which Raven has carried around with her for the past two years. As Raven read from the tattered sheet of notebook paper, Mikala ducked around the corner in tears. And then they had to go to math class.

Open Mic, a project that grew out of last year’s National Poetry Out Loud competition, is hosted by 2016 graduate Kesha Burton, whose interpretation of spoken poetry earned her a trip to the state competition earlier this year. Kesha performs poetry and encourages the audience to come up and share the spoken word. “The event is always laid-back, and Kesha has a lovely way of sensing how to get people comfortable enough to risk sharing poetry,” said Julie Dahlhauser, HHS librarian. “Every time we do this, something amazing happens.”

On Tuesday, November 15, some of the highlights of the session were Coach Tim Seymour’s fierce proclaiming of the poem “Defiance,” Asia Savage’s quiet but equally fierce version of “We Should All Be Feminists,” and Kesha’s reading of a children’s story written by ROTC Sgt. John Mark Parker. Drama teacher Lauren Burnett interpreted the classic tale “Whose Job Is It?” about the four characters Everybody, Anybody, Somebody, and Nobody. Kristoff Peet, freshman class treasurer, read Langston Hughes’ “A Dream Deferred.” Sophomore Acayla Palmer gave another feminist offering, “Boys Will Be Boys.” Mrs. Dahlhauser and English teacher Elizabeth Guth also read.

Another highlight was senior Nick Reyna. He writes poetry, but said he didn’t think his current poem was polished enough. Instead he sang an a cappella rendition of an Irish ballad, “Red Is the Rose.” The program rounded out with guest Megan Matlock of the Brownsville States-Graphic, who was there to cover the event, sharing the beloved Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken.”

Open Mic is sponsored by Brownsville Arts, the Delta Heritage Center, and HaywoodReads. Programs are held monthly at the Delta Heritage Center at Exit 56, and everyone is welcome to attend. More lunchtime Open Mic sessions are planned for the HHS Library next semester. Follow Haywood High School, West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center, or Brownsville Arts Council on social media for more info.

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