Spoken Word Poems: Rectory Students Find Their Voices


Introduction by Ms. Sara DiIorio, Rectory ESW Teacher: Rectory’s Effective Speaking and Writing (ESW) classes held their first annual Coffeehouse on April 7th in the P.Y. & Kinmay Tang Performing Arts Center and online. Each student in ESW composed, memorized, and performed an original Spoken Word Poem. Spoken Word Poetry centers around a call-to-action, where the poet chooses a topic he/she is passionate about to convey a message to the audience. Traditional Spoken Word Poetry also incorporates elements of performance art. Not only did the students write poetry, but they also memorized their work and presented it in front of an audience. The poem topics ranged from xenophobia to racism to proper animal care to lessons learned in friendships. We are so proud of each and every student for their hard work, dedication to their topic, and performance art skills. Following are a few example poems presented at the Coffeehouse. (Note: The first four students below, Fanny, Ava, Jerry, and Risa, also presented their poems at Rectory’s Spring Family Day on Friday, April 23, 2021.)

Voice in My Head by Fanny S. –

I lay in bed.
Tired but wide awake.
There is something on my mind.
And nothing I can do can stop it.


The million possibilities there are going to be next day.
How do I act?
What do I say?
What if it doesn’t end up like I thought it would?


Endless questions I ask myself.
Jumping to conclusions.
The worst ones.
So if it happens, it won’t affect me as much as if I had high hopes.


I keep telling myself.
It’s all in my head.
It’s not real.
It hasn’t even happened.


But these thoughts consume me.
Into thinking that it’s real.
Feeling trapped in all these thoughts.
Like there is no way out.
No tomorrow.


It feels like my body is drowning.
I keep sinking and sinking.
Deeper into my thoughts.
To the point where all these lies and illusions in my head,
Become part of my daily life.


I can’t speak up.
My tongue is tied.
My voice won’t come out.
So I keep all my feelings inside.


All the time I spent
Thinking of what I should have said.
Was worth nothing.
It all goes back to my mind again.


But then comes a light.
A light of realization.
Telling me that there is nothing wrong with not knowing everything.
Every answer, every feeling.


In fact that is how life works.
We figured out our way through it by living.
Making mistakes.
Learning from them.


Trust your gut and let things happen.
Because they will happen for a reason, no matter if it’s good or bad.
It’s important to focus on the future.
But don’t let it take away the value of the present moments we live day by day. 

Fine by Ava S.  –

When people ask how are you doing
A common response is to say I’m okay, with no delay.
And we move on with no further questions
But, what does “being okay” really say?


I miss my friends, I’m okay.
I have too much homework, I’m okay.
I have to get up early, I’m okay.
I have to stay up late, I’m okay.


People ask how are you feeling,
We instantly answer I’m fine like it is programmed into our minds.
So used to this simple response, they move on.
When people say “I’m fine” is that really a sign?


My dog is sick, I’m fine.
I failed my test, I’m fine.
I didn’t make the team, I’m fine.
I didn’t get into my top school, I’m fine.


When people ask how you are doing or feeling,
Be encouraged to tell them the truth;
There is no need to be concealing.


The person asking is checking in.
Know that being sad or angry should not be a sin.
And by the way
It is okay not to be okay.

How by Jerry D. – 

How could the Unseen freeze cities, states, nations, and all?
How did solitude and “six feet apart” no longer become a choice,
but a way to save lives?
The world decided to close down and repaint its walls?
How did wearing masks become a way to survive despite the inconvenience?
How did we wake up reminding ourselves that we are no longer dreaming?
That covering our expressions, staying apart, and grieving is
the new normal in the midst of disbelieving.


Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
Signs surrounding our homes screaming: We’re all in this together!
We’re pleading.
The losses, the wins, the everlasting quiet,
Leave a space to ruminate, regroup.


It is our choice whether to celebrate others’ victories.
Do we pull open our windows to say thank you to humanity?
In the empty streets of quietness.
Can we make our support and gratitude echo in the emptiness, as loneliness crumbles?


When a force greater than all continents combined is placing a hold on our fast-paced lives,
like a lion chasing you,
Let us find the delicate moments
To fight together
Towards the ultimate breakthrough.

My Study Abroad Diary by Risa W. –

Looking forward to studying abroad in the U.S.
Happy and excited
A little nervous emotion, too
Started online classes in September
I came to Rectory in person in October
The closer I got to my study abroad date
The more anxious I became
The more excited I became.


First day of the school diary…
Today was very nervous, as I can cry now
I feel I get used to insects, skin is so rough
Tomorrow will be nervous
How to make friends?
How to act?
What kind of story subjects to give?
Feel free to speak loudly
Let’s go for it!
I want to get used to it.


The second day of the school diary…
Day’s over
So tired
Itching all over my face
Because I cry a lot
I was ringing my parents’ cell phone
like a bird that chirps all the time
Talking to my family helps me recover when I’m depressed
like a special drug that works for my heart
In science class, I learned about the SL unit
In “equity” class, I learned about toxic friends
Able to understand in the class today.


The third day of the school diary…
Apparently, today is Happy Friday
We danced outside
Every time I move, I fidget,
Wondering where I’m going
I dislike Orange Day
Because morning classes are complicated.


The fourth day of the school diary…
My first holiday
I played cards with friends
Package has arrived
and I share foods with friends
No tears today.


Today’s school diary…
I don’t dislike Orange Day
But still complexity
I have no tears
But still, feel sad some days
I like Rectory
Because I can have fun activities and sports
I like the people, teachers, and friends
Because everyone is so nice and friendly.


I am used to this life!

Women by Rella W. –

To be a woman means to be beautiful.
They not only have an appealing appearance,
They are also very thoughtful.
And they have strong physical strength.
Women should be respected,
Should be praised.


People tell young women,
They cannot wear short skirts in public,
They cannot wear their coats open,
They need to be quiet and elegant.
But why do people say that?


People tell older women,
They should not compete with men for job opportunities,
They should not argue or express their ideas,
They should marry a better man,
They should take care of their families.
But why do people say that?


People tell women to protect themselves,
People give women lower salaries,
People give women fewer opportunities.
We should ask people why?


I wanted to say,
I saw boys walking around on the beach with free clothes.
I saw men being leaders in companies.
I heard boys arguing about many things,
I heard men express their thoughts.
I saw men go out to work,
I saw men hold higher salaries than women.
I saw that men do not need to take care of their children at home.
But I saw women.
I saw that men do not need to cook for their families or clean their rooms.
But I saw women.
And I asked why.


Now, I want to tell everyone,
Women can wear whatever they want,
And women can do whatever they want.
Women have the ability to have higher salaries,
Women are capable of gaining more knowledge.
Women can carry heavy things by themselves,
Women have their own thoughts,
And Women have their own power.
Women are not only beautiful,
They are very wise,
They are very creative,
They are very strong,
And they are very confident.


Now I want to say,
People should not judge women’s appearance,
Because every woman is beautiful.
People should not think that women are weak,
Because every woman is their own hero.
Women can realize their dreams through their own efforts.
Women can create more possibilities through their own power.


Now I want to say,
People should respect women from now on,
People should praise women from now on.


And now I want to say,
I feel lucky I am a girl.

Eager to Learn by Martin L. –

Born into strong opportunities, I recognize the privilege to learn.
And I am eager.


Beyond belief, I am overwhelmed by the support and the gift
to be dissected and regrouped as a better me.


Despite the desire for possession in the past,
I am now surrounded by a circle of intellects.


Given that they encourage me, success seems more reachable.
My fingertips graze it.


I am certain a warm atmosphere
stimulates my enthusiasm


And so, the value of perseverance and hard work collects like figures on a shelf.
For, critical thinking is who I am now.


Even if disorganization creeps in, I am guided back to my priorities.
With reminders, I receive the ability to be independent.


Consequently, I am confident in my learning.
Grateful for the essential foundation that allows me to continually build on top.


This is a product of Rectory!