Crosstown High student expresses herself in virtual poetry slam competition

Updated: Apr. 9, 2020 at 5:04 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thousands of students in Shelby County are trying to navigate a school year that has taken a confusing and uncertain turn. Some are turning to pen and paper.

One Crosstown High student wrote about her experience during this pandemic for a slam poetry competition.

Tenth grader Hayley Harris starts out her poem, “I sit confined in these four walls."

Boredom, a feeling many of us have felt during this pandemic, inspired Harris to transport herself out of the walls of her home via pen and paper.

“Boredom has robbed me of my reality. My imagination has [run] miles up and down these four walls,” Harris continues.

But more than writing, Harris took her poem she wrote during this stay-at-home order and presented it in front of her peers at Southern Word’s Memphis and Shelby County slam poetry competition.

“There’s a lot of physical movement involved, a lot of expression, a lot of therapy work that has to be done,” said Timothy Moore, Crosstown High Poetry Coach.

Of course, that competition, held in the middle of this pandemic, was online.

“To be a coach I had to kind of text and encourage and throw emojis up,” Moore said.

“I felt like this was a thank you note to those things keeping me sane,” Harris said.

We all have come to know those things. Harris wrote about music and TV.

“I join fictional icons on adventures through the TV and envy their simple freedoms,” Harris wrote.

She wrote about food, books and school.

“This quarantine has turned this teen into a mad scientist,” Harris continued.

Her experience that rings true in millions of us practicing social distancing also struck a chord at the slam poetry competition. Harris and a fellow Crosstown High poet will advance to the state competition.

“James Baldwin said one of the duties of a poet is to bear witness to the times,” Moore said.

“I’ve been missing the simple things, clutching onto my sanity in these four walls,” Harris’ poem concluded.

Here’s Harris’ poem in full:

I sit confined in these four walls.

I’ve been staring at these four walls for hours, but the minute hand has only jumped four minutes.

Boredom has robbed me of reality.

My imagination has ran up and down these four walls.

Work, eat, create, sleep repeat.

These are the four things that occupy me as I sit confined in these four walls.

I escape these four walls during my daily stroll to the treasure chest of food.

I escape the four walls by getting lost in the world authors provide me in the form of paper.

I get entangled and fly on melodies of music.

I join fictional icons on adventures through the tv and envy their simple freedoms.

I crave a spot with them under the sun.

Season 1, season 2, season 3, season 4.

Shows from the 90s I wish they dropped more.

And as the world is frozen around me, school maintains its speed.

I turn in assignment after assignment as COVID-19 dances through the climate.

This quarantine has turned this teen into a mad scientist making plans to build a machine to take us back to when we didn’t have to watch the world through a screen.

I’ve been missing the simple things, clutching on to my sanity in these four walls.

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