Video by Mary Hoyt
Last week, senior Tenley Gage performed one of her many spoken word poems at an open mic night at Sencha Tea Bar in Uptown.“I wasn’t scared, just nervous. I went into it open-minded. I had no expectations. I have never done anything like this, I had only ever performed in front of classmates and my family, this was in front of complete strangers,” senior Tenley Gage said.
Her passion for spoken word started when she in 8th grade. “I was browsing through YouTube procrastinating and came across some spoken word videos and I couldn’t stop watching them,” Gage said.
Sophomore year came along and Gage had english class with Ms. Olson. “For the final project we were assigned to analyze a poem and make a piece of artwork inspired it and then read the poem out loud and explain the piece of artwork in class. The poem I chose was a slam piece, that was the first time I performed slam poetry in front of people,” Gage said.
Gage has been writing slam poetry ever since. “The way I write slam poetry is in fragments and pieces, so like I will think of a line when I’m at a coffee shop and write it on a napkin, or I will be having a conversation with somebody and say something I want to say in my slam piece. I usually write them all down and then write the slam around the quotes or bullet points” Gage said.
Before Gage started creating slam poems, she started writing poetry in her journal. It was more of a form of getting everything out of her head. “Ever since I was a kid, reading and writing has always been difficult for me. I was constantly being told that writing the way I wanted to write was wrong, like the punctuation and the style I wrote it in didn’t sound right and I wasn’t using proper grammar. My way of writing was just how it made sense with me,” Gage said.
She grew up thinking the way she wrote and saw things was wrong. “I kept everything to myself in journals, but through the past five years, I’ve slowly been more open about my passion for writing cause I realized everyone expresses themselves in a different way. I want people to know that it’s ok if you see the world through a different lens than everyone else,” Gage said.
Gage now shares her slam poems with as many people as she can, especially with people who have had similar experiences as her. “I want to be as open as possible so people can feel comfortable about themselves in front of me,” Gage said.