Students find their voice at school’s poetry slam _lowres

Photo provided by Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired -- Participating in the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired's first Poetry Slam on March 3 are, front row, from left, Akira Lasyone, Brandi Magee, Amar O’Brien and Kloe Andrews; middle row, from left, Leilya Pitre, Ryan Barnes, Dontay Penn, Mary Hilton, Gianni Toce, Chloe Ashford, Joseph Brock, Gavin Kittrell, Asya Duplichan and Johnisin Allen; back row, from left, Chris Holliday, Kaiya Smith, Austin Dugas and Josiah Singleton. Winners of the competition were Trinity Schley, kindergarten to fifth grade division; Kloe Andrews, sixth to eighth grade; Gianni Toce, high school.

Mary Hilton’s voice, rich with emotion, floated across the tables full of students, teachers and parents March 3, as she read a poem she composed about her experiences at her old school.

The Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired held its first Poetry Slam and Cafe in its activity center on campus, an event conceived entirely from and by the Student Government at the school, said Leilya Pitre, who teaches high school English at LSVI.

Chris Holliday, a sophomore at the school and student body president, said the slam was an event they’d dreamed about during their meetings.

“We talked a lot about poetry, and spoken word, and it’s something we really wanted to do ourselves, so we went to Dr. Pitre about it,” Holliday said.

He and his fellow student government leaders put together a proposal for the administration, and after it was approved, they got busy publicizing the slam, which was also a contest. Students from all grade levels were invited to participate, provided they were willing to stand in front of the room full of people and read or recite it aloud.

“I was nervous,” Hilton said, even though she knew the crowd was full of her friends and family. But once she got started, she said, she got into the rhythm of the piece, which was inspired by classmates who teased her in public school.

“They called me ‘blindy,’ ” she said, clearly still able to recall exactly how she felt about the ridicule even six years after leaving the school. When she came to LSVI, she said, it was like finding family who understood exactly where she was coming from.

Poetry, she said, helps her process those emotions, and deal with them in a constructive way.

It was the same for Holliday, who wanted as many classmates at the school as possible to be exposed to spoken word poetry.

This attitude makes Pitre happy.

“It’s something the students wanted, so we made sure it happened,” Pitre said.

She was so impressed by the quality of their work, she said, she plans to make it an annual event, reach out to other schools in the area to collaborate on joint events, and bring in visiting poets and authors for workshops.


By: Gianni Toce 10th Grade

Forgive them lord for they know not what they do.

People are rude cause it’s hard to be true,

to yourself when life treats you the way it do.

Life is a funny thing,

People can be mean,

People can be right but what’s that mean

if afterword they can’t feel clean?

Life is a funny thing,

It’s good to take leaves out of other’s books.

And sometimes people just need to take a look,

At what’s on the inside.

Since that’s where the things that matter reside.

And on those, there, people can rely.

And by doing this they just might find,

How much is good and how much is right.

How much is open and how much is shy.

How much is true and how much is being denied.

How much is cracked, brittle, dry.

Cause when people can find the truth inside,

People can find people