Review: Poetry Fest

Rachel Nguyen, Staff Writer

On April 26 in the basement of Brookline Booksmith, the Brookline community, including students and faculty members of the high school, were ecstatic. It was a full house and everyone was on the edge of their seats. It was the annual Poetry Fest. This event encourages students, staff members and adults of the community to gather and recite or listen to original poems.

Guest speaker David Connelly started off the night with two poems. Connelly has read poetry several times at the high school. The poems he read were about his time serving in the Vietnam War. At the end of his reading, Connelly spoke directly to the audience, encouraging them to “not give up your own voice” when they write their own poetry. The sentimental poems drew me to the edge of my seat making me want to hear more about Connelly’s experience of the war.

The first faculty member to recite was English Curriculum Coordinator Mary Burchenal. Burchenal read a poem called “Later Dorothy Blames Toto for Everything” that she had written about Dorothy and her dog, Toto, from The Wizard of Oz. Her humorous poem received laughter from audience members. Burchenal’s poem was a twist on a beloved story and made me laugh for the entirety of it.

24 students read at the event and the first student reader was senior Sarah Groustra. She took the stage with her original poem called “Portrait of Ophelia at the River’s Edge.” Groustra’s poem weaved a story of a girl by a river bank with the scenery that surrounded her. It was enchanting and soothing to listen to, like the fairy tales I enjoyed reading when I was younger.

Former librarian Lynne Cohen read a poem that she had written 15 years ago, called “A Blind Fish.” It was comical and as I looked around, the other audience members smiled at the quirky parts of her poem. Sophomore Stefani Morales shared a beautifully written poem called “Mi Casa.” The poem was about her mother’s childhood before immigrating to the U.S.—it was a touching poem and Morales delivered it nicely. Senior Carolyn Parker recited a story-like poem about a mother who scolds her child for being too much like their father. Parker delivered the poem with enthusiasm and stature, looking like a real poet.

After all the participants finished reciting their poem, they each received a J.P. Licks gift card as a reward for stepping up and sharing their original poems.

The night ended with closing remarks from the coordinators of the event, English teacher Alison Whitebone and former librarian Lynne Cohen, congratulating the poets who had shared and thanking the audience for attending the event. Poetry Fest was incredibly entertaining. Listening to all those poets left me awestruck and inspired. I was not only impressed by their creativity, but also the readers’ courage to stand up in front of a large crowd and recite something they wrote.