On Nov. 10, the Oswego High School English Department, with the sponsorship of Student Council, hosted Poetry Day in the auditorium where students were invited to attend a poetry workshop and perform at an open microphone.
Leading the workshop was Adam Gottlieb, a Chicago-based activist, musician, and poet, with the help of Casera Heining, a Chicago-based DJ and producer known professionally as DJ Ca$hEra.
The event was organized by Mrs. Erin Holtz, an English teacher at OHS who created the school’s creative writing curriculum. To her, students can have a great impact on their peers, themselves, and community through the art they produce.
“Poetry is an entry point into introspection and community,” Holtz said.
For the students, poetry provides a more personal benefit.
“I decided to use poetry as a way to express myself because I not only love to write, but also I love the huge variety,” senior Kara Baaske, who attended the event, said.
Adam Gottlieb, the featured speaker for the event, has been writing and performing poetry since high school.
“If you like both acting and writing, then spoken word poetry is for you,” Gottlieb said. “Mostly because it’s just the most pure way to articulate art; you use language on your own terms.”
Gottlieb invited students to brainstorm what it means to be a part of Generation Z. Many students reported condescension, disrespect, and disregard from older generations. Gottlieb, despite being a millennial, relayed to the students, “Y’all give me hope.”
Gottlieb then asked students to describe their generation in a word or short phrase. Phrases like “open,” “bold,” “observant,” and “the start of actual change” were offered. Following the brainstorming, students were invited to read their own poems at an open microphone. The majority of the poems that students wrote served as warnings to the status quo and to whoever underestimates their generation.
Socially conscious dialogue dominated Poetry Day.
“I think we got to get rid of this whole capitalism stuff,” Gottlieb said. “Let’s transform society to one where we take care of each other.”
For Heining, her goal was more personal.
“Ultimately, I want to make it possible for people like me to go further than I went,” Heining said. “I feel like I’m constantly having to prove my worth because I’m black, because I’m queer, because I’m female.”
OHS Poetry Day provided a supportive and safe space for students hungry to have their voice heard.
“When you go up to the open mic, you get fed spiritually,” Gottlieb said.
Of course, there was pizza available, too.