Secondary School’s Sensational Poetry Slam

The Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing) held its first annual Coffee House Poetry Slam event last week. Students from Years 7-10 showed off their literary chops with dynamic performances of self-written poetry in front of their peers. This edition of Student Blogs showcases the poetry of one of our Year 7 students, Aoife Savage. She speaks about the inspiration behind her poem and how the project has given her a greater appreciation of poetry and the writing process.

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Aoife Savage. I’m from Ireland and have lived in Beijing for nearly 1 year.

Please introduce your poem that you wrote for the Poetry Slam event. What is it about?

The two prompts for the poem were either two different objects or something that annoyed me. When I heard these prompts, I immediately thought of my English test! 2 weeks before the performance, we had an English test that I was really nervous about. I was really scared of not getting a good mark or not knowing the answer to something on the test. Thus, I named my poem “Stressed because of a Test:”


I put my hand on my head

Wishing I was dead

I was feeling very stressed

Hoping for the best…

Did you enjoy performing your piece? How did you get over the nervousness of performing in front of your classmates?

I really like performing onstage in front of people, so I really enjoyed doing it. Even though I get nervous, I still really like it. I do a lot of acting so I’m used to it. I’m especially excited for my role in the musical Legally Blonde that we’ll be performing in January!

I didn’t know what to do

I really had no clue

I knew I would have to pray

If I wanted to get an A…

How do you get over the nervousness?

My teacher said it helps to stand with your hands on your hips, and it really does!

What did you learn about poetry and literature through this writing process?

I wrote this poem in class and then got my friends to comment on it. They thought that my use of rhyme was nice, so they were giving me ideas on how to make words rhyme with other words. However, I learnt through this unit and process that poems don’t always have to rhyme or be long; they can vary in length or not rhyme at all.

My teachers also taught me a lot about the process. They advised me not to rush and to take as much time as I needed to compose the piece. This was good advice as it helped me to hone and fine-tune it much better than if I had just written it in one sitting.

100 percent was my goal

Although I felt like burning coal

I knew I had to try

Now I was beginning to cry…                               

What was the most challenging part of the process for you?

Probably learning the whole poem by heart. I brought my book on stage but didn’t actually need it! Learning how to do the actions and emotions that you need to bring the poem to life on stage was also challenging.

The answer was on the tip of my tongue

My heart was beating like a drum

My friends’ pencils swiveling on the paper

And me nothing written thirty minutes later…

Who are your favorite poets? And why?

I have a favorite poet, he’s an Irish poet but I don’t remember his name [laughs]. He has written a lot of poems that have since been turned into songs by modern artists. My favorite poem of his is about a man who falls in love with a woman. He tried to get this lady’s attention, but despite trying over and over, he continues to fail. He’s much older and she much younger, so eventually she falls in love with someone else despite his best efforts.

I was going to cheat like a sly fox

Just staring at that empty box

I felt so scared and frightened

But then my day suddenly brightened…

Has this project inspired you to write more poetry in the future?

Yes! We had to do a project where we had to make something inspired by a book that we read. I wrote a poem about the book itself. My teacher told me that she could definitely sense my passion for poetry through these projects, so I hope to continue writing more in the future.

Then the answer shot into my head

What is a very long word that begins with zed

Zelophobia the fear of jealousy

Hello A, goodbye E

school logo