BSU and Mr. Yeboah Host Open Mic, Showcase Poetry

Juliana Vandermark, Around School Editor

The first Tuesday of February, also known as Black History Month, marked the first of many poetry events held at CRLS. From 2:45 to around 4:30 PM, the CRLS library was filled with young poets and community members gathered for an open mic and a performance from guest poet, Porsha Olayiwola.

First year CRLS English teacher Mr. Yeboah first had the idea to have a poetry series at the school and reached out to friends of CRLS for funding to bring poets to the school as frequently as possible.

Since this one happened to fall during Black History Month, he wanted to reach out to the Black Student Union. Mr. Dua and BSU members such as Reham Zeroual ’20 were especially helpful in this event, according to Mr. Yeboah.

Mr. Yeboah has been a poet since a young age. Before teaching at CRLS, he was a teaching artist who taught poetry workshops and shared his love of poetry with other students and participants in house slams. His goal in starting this event was to find and connect a community like those he has experienced out of school with CRLS.

“We tried to encourage as many people to sign up as possible because I think it is important to have an outlet where there are a bunch of writers,” he explained. “It’s really important to have a space where people can share if they want to.”

Mr. Yeboah was impressed by the large turnout, continuing, “Some people [knew] they wanted to share and … came for that express purpose, but other people who might not have been as willing to share but seeing other people, [the performances] might have inspired them. I think it was really cool to have the folks show up that did.”

Junior Nia Betts, who heard about the event on social media, shared two poems she wrote herself at the open mic, commenting, “I’ve been writing poetry for a while now and I [thought] maybe I should share it. I was really scared when I got there but then I decided to just do it.” Betts said she would definitely go again and encourages everyone to not be scared and share their work “because it’s a very accepting and positive environment.”

Guest Porsha Olayiwola, a 2019 Boston Poet Laureate, was a very exciting feature of the event. Olayiwola impressed and captivated the audience.

“It was really good,” Betts said, “[Olayiwola] put a lot of emotion into all of her poetry. … Her pauses and where she put the breaks and everything was really nice. I felt like I can relate to a lot of it, but also I couldn’t, so it was nice hearing other perspectives and other views of other people’s poetry.”

Ms. Lozada, who heard about the event through her students and from an email to the staff, agreed: “Oh, she’s fire. She’s a mover and shaker in the world.”

Ms. Lozada pointed out how touching and inspiring it was that Olayiwola even shared unfinished work, “I think that it was really cool that she was still in the process of writing and inviting us in as an audience, which is really kind of vulnerable to do. But she seemed very relational and in a way was like trying stuff out on us.”

The event was a huge success, and many participants are very excited for what’s next.


This piece also appears in our February 2019 print edition.