In front of her poetry students, their parents, and friends, Head of Upper School Lauri Conner opened up the reading with a poem of her own: “Our Hands.” She had written about her students, and how their poems had supported her through tough times this fall. Fourteen seniors wowed the crowd with their touching and personal poems on the evening of November 7.
Each year, the seniors in Lauri Conner’s poetry class stages a reading towards the end of the fall trimester. The class spends time writing, commenting on, and revising poems, pulling from different artists for inspiration, and attending local poetry readings around the city. Conner pointed out the uniqueness of this reading: “Poets are not singing somebody else’s lyrics or acting out someone else’s words; poets both write and perform their work."
Each senior took the stage to present at least three minutes worth of poetry. Most chose to read three or four poems while Amani Stewart only read one. Stewart’s poem about her family, her body, and her self-confidence demonstrated an excellent use of metaphor, and the emotion of the piece resonated with the audience. Another highlight was when Jasmine Alvarado-Salinas read poems about her heritage and her experience as a minority, which blended personal experience with overarching themes in American society.
Allie Morrison also wrote about racism in a poem entitled “Black Jesus,” which discussed her experience as a black woman living in South Lake Union. Other poets chose to be more abstract, like Jaidyn Lam, Karl Johnson, or Lila Sangster, whose rhythmical poems juxtaposed descriptions, dialogue, and their own thoughts.
Sara DiPasquale ‘18, Luca Rogoff ‘18, and Sydney Kaplan ‘18 found inspiration in their routines. DiPasquale expressed her distaste for waking up in the dark, while Rogoff explored his relationship with time, marrying powerful dialogue with hearty descriptions. Kaplan drew from her rowing practices and her childhood to express her optimism and her love of small happy moments. Cal Fuller used their devotion to nature to write an emotional and truly personal poem about gender, while Hannah Morris used her appreciation for coffee shops and cookies to explain her love of repetition.
Sarah Boal and Ethan Hoover paid touching tributes to their families in their poems. Boal shared her love for her late grandfather in a moving piece, while Hoover wrote a beautiful thank-you note to his mother. In poems that felt like conversations, Kate Sieler closed out the show recounting her experience with medical procedures and her witnessing of peer pressure and addiction.
Both the crowd and Lauri Conner deemed “Claim It” a success, and I recommend that every senior to go out of their way to reach out to one of these poets and learn more about their creative process.