Jazz Poetry Night (JPN) is a night of celebrating student poetry with music. This evening concert featured students, individual and group, reading their own Spoken Word poems. They were supported by three special guests. First Luke Smiraldo, spoken word poet and Poet Laureate for Tacoma, emceed the event. Luke’s Spoken Word performances are dynamic and socially conscious. He worked with the students before JPN in a workshop setting on spoken word poetry and performance. [See poem below “If I Am Everyone” which Luke wrote with input from every attending student.] We were so fortunate to have Luke join us. Contact Luke Smiraldo at www.vanillasoul.net
Next up was Andrew Larsen, blues pianist I spoke about in my Blues Poems posting. Andrew reprised his role as performer of the Blues poems that the students wrote.
We were also fortunate to have Brent Irwin, a talented music teacher at our school. Brent has a local jazz band called the Jazz Misfits who performed a couple standards and backed up some of the student performers.
If I Am Everyone
Dedicated to the students of Woodmont K-8
What if I told you I was everywhere?
And what if I told you I was everyone?
What if I told you I was infinite me multiplying at
the sound of decibel squared, cracking air
like caps under heels and you could hear loud love
the smell of mothers, and the sound of Spanish singers?
what if my family was somehow different but we did not have
a single new feeling?
What if we all came from the same ancestors?
My future is rich like a line of islands
erupting in faith, determined to finish,
we fall like lava, the liquid hearts of the Filipino nation
our struggle hardens to form steps
to climb hills again. These fragile land masses receive our tear drops in
breeze and ocean where “ha” and “ha” together just might make our day.
What if I laid a table for you in Mexico?
yes, I am from Mexico,
with my family food, tacos
from the hands of my mom and dad
and our table was surrounded by cement buildings
like mis abuelas,,
like Kenyan Shoshos and whukas
chattering protective prayers in many tongues?
and what if I invited the Scots, arriving to the name of
Black Knights, swords at their kilts, weapons that once cut enemies
like butter, but now are at rest with the dinnerware?
We all live through the same days of love, laughter and family
of hot and cold and sunny and the rain of hail and thunder
as flash floods of knowledge plunge past us carrying the thoughts
of elder generations.
And my history tumbles past like rapids
Am I from New York, dad half native and taste for fried chicken?
Or true Mexican, fun to be with, over a plate of quesadillas?
Can you call me Guatemalan,
Whipping up rice and beans and tortillas?
Yet I claim Queen Elizabeth as my ancestor.
Or am I Filipino, food is my culture
Perhaps we only speak Spanish and our food is pupusa…
Just know that I am unique, beautiful, different, fun and quiet, passionate,
sparks like apple seeds spreading orchards as I go.
Just know I speak from the diverging roots
in many tongues
and know that you will sometimes hear curse words in my house
as the Wizard of Oz floats from the television
competing with righteous church music streaming through the halls
and I am German with strong rules that make me who I am.
I am from Kenyan, Mexican, Scottish, English,
Filipino, Guatemalan, Native Indigenous,
check my bloodline, my future is rich, erupting in faith
everywhere and everyone
the smell of a mother’s love
the sound of Spanish singers
my parents came from poverty
but my life is full of love and laughter
inside jokes and our food is like our culture,
so sit at the table and smell the dishes
see the abuelas
surrounding each of us
they are everywhere
I am everyone
I am here.