By: Grace Wu
On February 1, Phoenix Art and Literary Magazine held their Winter Poetry Slam at Mission Coffee from 6-9 PM. Students from MSJ, parents, and people from around the Bay Area came together for a night of poetry, singing, and instrumental performance.
Senior Valerie Tsai, Phoenix Editor-in-Chief, kicked off the event with a poetry reading. MSJ’s Syncopasians took the stage next and performed a mashup of “Ordinary People” and “Save Room” by John Legend. Then Seniors Eamon Jahani and Marianna Sartori sang a duet. Two more vocal performances followed, with 8th grader Ashlesha Sathe singing a rendition of Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” and Sophomore Lara Khamisy singing “Skinny Love” by Birdy while playing the piano.
After the vocal performances, the highly anticipated poetry contest started with an original poem by MCSenior Elizabeth Wu. The participants performed a wide array of poetry. Seniors Joshua Choi and Allan Ko presented original poems. Senior Joshua Shao and local performer Chad Porras, also known as Skeptik, both delivered powerful pieces of spoken word. Juniors Vivian Jair and Janis Lee recited their interpretations of poems by Lewis Carroll and an anonymous author.
The night continued with vocal performances from the band 3AM, Chad Porras, and Juniors Janis Lee and Trisha Nguyen. Then, MC Elizabeth Wu opened the staged for anyone willing to perform for open mic. Numerous MSJ students such as Seniors Ciara Lunger, Vivian Dong, Calvin Liang, Lucy Shen, Allan Ko, and Leena Yin serenaded the audience with vocal and instrumental performances.
More vocal acts followed open mic. SeniorShivaniAriathurai and Ohlone College student Melissa Miyamot performed a duet.Senior LillianChoung and 8th graderValerie Choung performed three songs: “People Help the People”, “Words”, and“Love the Way you Lie”. Elliot Wright, lead vocalist for the alternative hip hop band Eliquate based in Santa Cruz, delivered two pieces of spoken word. Gabe Tiburcio from the band Social Stereo took the stage next and sang two songs from the band’s album. The second to last act was a cello quartet, performing “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica.
Before the last act,an incident occurred that threatened to overshadow the spirit of the event. During the transition to the last act of the night, the microphone fell off the stand and onto the amplifier, resulting in a malfunction which blew out a part of the amplifier that cost $250. The amplifier belonged to a volunteer who regularly hosts events at Mission Coffee so the manager of Mission Coffee made an announcement saying that Phoenix was responsible for the cost. A kind-hearted observer orchestrated an effort to take donations from attendees to cover the costs and offered a hat for the collection. Nearly everyone in attendance made a donation, truly making it a collaborative effort. Miraculously, attendees had donated enough to cover the cost in a matter of minutes. Instead of turning into a disaster, the incident shined a light on the generosity and altruism of MSJ students and the local community and made the night memorable.Phoenix Editor in Chief Valerie Tsai says, “I’m just really amazed by their generosity and how quick everyone was to donate. I’m really, really thankful.”
The Winter Poetry Slam closed with a performance by Juniors Austin Lee and Dana Gurion. The two sang without microphones which created an intimate feel that was the perfect way to end an inspirational night.