Last night, I went to a poetry slam at one of the local high schools. I went to support several of the youth that go to our church, and I was blown away by the talent of everyone who spoke.
These young people were spitting rhymes, laying down truth, setting their pulsing hearts on the stage. These young people were activists, demanding that we rock the status quo. These young people pointed to oppressions and injustices.
They spoke of friendships, family, lovers. They questioned traditional roles. They brought light to depression.
They weren’t satisfied to just take what life had given them. They fought back with finely honed words sharpened against the whetstone of life. They screamed, they wept, they whispered, they sang, and the beauty they created, the ugly truths they put on display moved me and humbled me. Their sheer passion amazed.
Sitting in the darkened auditorium, my heart shrunk and swelled. I wept. I laughed. I have never snapped my fingers so much. Ten years out from high school, I cannot believe how grown up these students are. They are taking life by the lapels and shouting in its face, “I can change the world! I won’t sit idly by!” And I am so so proud of them–not because I have shaped them–but because I get to witness them become.
Last night, I saw the words of MacLeish’s poem come to life:
A poem should not mean
This evening, those students that impressed me last night will graduate from high school. They will celebrate their hard work. They will walk and receive their diplomas. They will be congratulated. And the truths they spoke last night will not be forgotten.