With a voice as calm as the ocean, a smile as bright as the sun and a powerful message, sophomore poet Virginia Villalta had fingers snapping and eyes tearing up in the VHS library on Jan. 17. Her reading of The Lanyard by Billy Collins and her poetic response was a highlight of the Venice High School’s Third Annual Poetry Slam in collaboration with Get Lit! Words Ignite Poetry Program.
“I love how students can find their voice and story and talk about what matters, I think it’s a way to support students,” said Hazel Witham, English teacher and poetry coach.
Ten students performed two poems each, a classic poem and an original poem in response. The top four to six performers will represent Venice in the citywide poetry slam in April.
Poets Olympia Miccio, Emily Johnson and Jaden Corona competed at the past two finals and are coming back for their third year.
“ I’ve been doing slam poetry for three years and been a part of Get Lit players,” Miccio said.
“I love that it gives a platform for you to speak your truth that you don’t get to do on a daily basis and you get to impact others.”
Johnson said poetry has had a big impact on her life.
“I always knew I liked writing but I never knew what kind,” she said. “When I was introduced to poetry in Ms. Witham’s class, it was like the best push she could’ve given me in the right direction…poetry is basically my therapy.”
Andrew Irias Torres remembers the first time he joined the poetry club.
“ So… I remember the first time Ms. Witham said poetry which was in 9th grade and when she said that it went into my mind so I started reading poetry from Edgar Allan Poe. I continued on and when Ms. Witham started the poetry club I decided to join,” said Torres.
Marlon Diaz wanted to share his connection with poetry.
“ My connection with poetry is my connection to the world and all of its beauty,” said Diaz.
”I’ve built a strong relationship with Pablo Neruda and many people of the world and my way of expressing it is through these verses in these poems that I create.”
Along with Diaz, Miccio, Johnson, Villalta and Torres, Marilyn Castro, Ashton Broughton, Kayla Armstrong, Jaden Corona, and Ayesyz Patterson performed as well.
Powerful voices were heard, emotions were shown, personal experiences were shared and everyone in the audience who attended lend them their ears.
“I’d like to say that Spanish is the most beautiful language out there because it captures so many emotions that could be put in words honestly,” said Diaz.
“I want to thank Ms. Herrero for getting me into poetry and I want to thank a heartbreak and my first lover for building me up to this.”
“These students are very talented and more than that, they are courageous,” said Ms.Witham.
”They get up there and they share really vulnerable things and that’s an incredible thing to be both creative and critical and speaking about the world they live in and they want to see. ”