Rhyme, Rhythm and Reputation at HHS

HHS Poetry Night, put on by Ms. Pullum and Ms. Johnson, was a roaring success with Taylor Swift, poetry, and laughter all around!
Emily Hosmon (11) reads her poetry on Tortured Poets’ Night
Emily Hosmon (11) reads her poetry on Tortured Poets’ Night
Photography, Ashlyn Sims

Tortured Poets Night is an event recently held in the HHS Library where students came together to share their love of poetry and Taylor Swift. 

Poetry Night began 3 years ago with the collaboration of Ms. Pullum and Ms. Johnson; it began as an event to celebrate April as National Poetry Month and has since grown into an annual event. It hopes to help students have a stronger appreciation for poetry or bring together those who are already passionate. Ms. Pullum hopes that by hosting the event she can encourage students to better understand poetry so that they may find comfort in it and enjoy it.

The event should have fallen on the night of April 19th, as Taylor Swift released her album on that day. Therefore, it was decided that the 2024 poetry night would be themed after Taylor Swift’s newest album, “Tortured Poets Department”.  Especially since song lyrics are poetry, Taylor Swift being an exceptional poet herself, it was truly “an element of fate that it all came together.” (Ms. Pullum)

The night commenced with author Sara Bevis introducing herself as a local fantasy author.  The poem she read was a song from her book, Aurora in the Dark, which can be found on Amazon or at the many events Mrs. Bevis attends in Southern Illinois (students can see what she is doing by following her Instagram).  

“It is about a young girl named Aurora.  She lives in a Kingdom named Astoria.  She lives with her father and they have a perfect life, until he suddenly gets ill and on his deathbed reveals he’s not her father.  When her uncle finds out, he’s upset about it and she ends up having to flee her home in search of her real father,” Mrs. Bevis explains.  

Throughout the night, students stood before the entire group of attendants to read poetry (their original work or the work of another).  Students used confetti (library workers had printed off Taylor Swift lyrics and cut them into individual words) to construct their poems.  For instance, Maddie Ahne (11) constructed “He destroys, with one word he can kill me. Oh, I’m in danger and I know it -(He loves me)” and won a Barnes and Noble gift card for her work.  

Some students took the chance to read the works of poets such as Bukowski, Wilde, Poe, and more; while others, such as Emily Hosmon (11), Maddie Martin (10), and Ava Pribble (10th grader, who had her poem read aloud by Ms. Wilson) read their work.

Periodically throughout the night, names were drawn, and those select few were gifted Taylor Swift-themed prizes such as a keychain, cup, and t-shirt.  

With laughter, snaps, and artistic honesty (because poetry is nothing less than seeing into the soul of the poet), the night slowly burned out and concluded just before eight in the evening.  As students trickled out of the library, HHS Journalists pounced upon them to gather their opinions on such an important night.

Brittany Williams (11) attended poetry night because of her respect for Ms. Pullum and Mrs. Wilson (whom she wanted to support).

Recognizing the importance of poetry, Ava Pibble (10) attended because of her love of Taylor Swift and poetry.  “It was a lot more fun than I expected.  I had a lot of fun.”  It was her first time attending a poetry night at Herrin High School, and she will most likely attend next year.

Addi Kartz (10) said: “I thought I was just going to come and listen to poetry, but I learned a lot.”  

Emily Hosmon (11) is an award-winning poet from HHS who has attended poetry night for the entire three years of its existence.  Though she recognizes the importance of S.T.E.M., she commented: “The arts are as we live and breathe.  The arts make us feel more alive and touched by life… this is what makes humanity truly beautiful.”

Imogen Coop (9) took part in the evening by reciting two of her original pieces and some lyrics from Ms. Siwa’s “Boomerang”.  She loved to hear Emily and Mrs. Bevis recite their works, Maddie Ahne read Bukowski’s “So You Want To Be a Writer?”, as well as an HHS Student’s work called “Summertime Sadness”.  Overall, she was surprised by the turnout of listeners and those who read their works.  “I will return annually to reread Jojo Siwa’s boomerang till my death bed,” she says of her intent on attending future poetry nights.

Tortured Poets Night was truly a complete success, drawing a fantastic and creative crowd to come and share their love of poetry.

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