BERLIN – Students at Stephen Decatur High School last week saw the power of poetry with a performance hosted by The Freeman Stage.
As part of its Art in Education program, The Freeman Stage brought The Mayhem Poets to Stephen Decatur High on Friday.
“We try to celebrate and inspire poetry in the schools in the Delmarva region,” said Denise Allen, education coordinator for Freeman Stage.
While this is the fourth year The Freeman Stage has sent poets into area classrooms to promote the concept of poetry out loud, this is the first time they’ve visited Stephen Decatur. The Mayhem Poets, made up of Scott Raven, Mason Granger and Mikumari Caiyhe, blend hip-hop rhythms, music and stand-up comedy in a theatrical presentation meant to help students find their own voices.
“All their poems are from their own life experience,” Allen said.
During Friday’s performance, Caiyhe told the audience about the time he spotted his mother, who he hadn’t seen for years, among a crowd of homeless at a train station before performing “Open Letter to my Mother, Sunshine.”
“The one thing I kept thinking about was how many people judged her,” Caiyhe said. “I wondered did anyone think this could be someone’s mom or sister or aunt or even a human being. I decided I needed to write this poem for anyone who gets judged wrongly without people knowing who you are. And more importantly I wrote this poem for the most beautiful woman in my life.”
Granger reminded students that no matter what stage of life they were in there would always be someone who judged them.
“That’s just something you always have to push your elbows out and carve out your own space,” he said.
Allen said poetry had allowed the Mayhem Poets to cope with their personal struggles throughout their lives. She said she hoped Friday’s performance let students see how it had helped.
“We’re hoping students can see that, internalize that and start working on their own poetry,” Allen said. “Poetry is a thing of the present not just something from the past. Poetry’s cool.”
She said that for her, the most enjoyable part of watching the Mayhem Poets on stage was seeing the way students responded to them.
“My favorite thing is to stand in the front of the auditorium and look back to see their reactions, to hear them laugh and react to poems that really move them,” she said. “That’s what our mission is all about.”
She added that after each performance, there were always teens who approached the trio and shared their own stories.
“We have students that need this vehicle of writing poetry to get through challenges in their lives,” she said. “The stories they tell, some warm your heart and some break your heart.”