Wilson High School students bore their souls and showed off their artistic talent during the Wilson Poetry Slam Thursday, April 12 in the Wilson Library.
Out of over 20 participants, sophomore Ari Lohr earned first prize and received a $50 gift card, Mia Sedory placed second and received a $25 gift card and Muhammad Taylor placed third and received a $10 gift card. Lohr and Sedory also earned spots in the citywide youth poetry slam competition April 26 at Arlene Schnitzer Hall — after the Connection went to press. Taylor attended the competition as an alternate.
All three winners discussed hot-button social issues during their schoolwide performance.
Lohr put forth an emphatic performance, detailing the effects of rampant homophobia and the stigma associated with homosexuality. He also called the audience to fight back against homophobic aggressors.
"How many lives have to be lost to homophobia and intolerance until we realize that this is no longer a warning call, that this is not just happening here, that this is never going to stop in Russia, in Poland, in Iran, in Libya, in Egypt and 68 other countries where being gay is synonymous with being a terrorist, until we stand up," he said.
"If their words are bullets then we are made of bulletproof glass because we will fire back, because we will no longer shatter, because we are the heartbeat to your flat line, the gasoline to your fire and the thunder to your silence. When we speak up our words become an explosion."
Sedory lamented older generations characterizing her generation as too obsessed with social media, "vain and self-absorbed."
"You forgot; you are the ones who created social media. You are the ones who created computers and touch screens so I don't want to hear your screams anymore about how we are vain," she said. "Don't you see how social media causes us pain? Will you ever take us seriously? Will you ever acknowledge that we are smart in our own ways too? And will you stop being so condescending?"
"I'm 15 years old and scared. I'm scared we won't be able to save this dying world. We have to pick up your mess, as our test, no wonder we're stressed, trying to do our best, keeping our fears compressed," she said.
And Sedory closed with: "I'm scared of all the hate in this world. Kindness is always late in this world. Can't we recreate this world so that people don't have to live scared."
Taylor's soliloquy discussed his search for an identity and his isolation from various groups.
"Who am I? My skin ain't dark. My hair ain't nappy. What am I? Who am I. Bronze skin faded, my whole reality jaded. My perception I hate it. My complexion I hate it. I hear black is beautiful. I'm told black power. My eyes perceive otherwise. Every day I keep seeing that white's beautiful. White people is usual."
In the end, he realizes his identity.
"It took me 14 years just to find my place. African American, how to find my race."