June 12 marked our final event of the year, the premiere of our three short films AND the release party for the 43rd issue of hArtworks.
We packed the back room of the 5th and K Busboys & Poets–latecomers had to stand or perch on the stairs. In total we had 24 Writing Club students get up to perform, and an audience of at least a hundred to cheer them on. We love the Busboys venue because it lets the kids experience an authentic literary event, but the location often makes it difficult for Congress Heights parents to attend. Not tonight, though; we were excited to welcome the most Hart families we’ve ever had–hi to the Hogans, the Lees, the Washingtons, the Williamses, the Henleys, the Barbours, and many others!
Of course our stars couldn’t enter without a red carpet–which Busboys enthusiastically made room for. It’s always exciting to see the kids dressed up in their finest, after so many weeks of seeing them in school uniforms. Everyone looked so elegant and grown-up!
In addition to our current students’ families, we were thrilled to see in attendance an entire row of Hart teachers, the world’s best principal Billy Kearney, four members of the Hart football team (jocks like poetry too!), and Writing Club alumni going all the way back to 2001.
After seventeen years as MC, Nancy came down with bronchitis the night before, so Abbey stepped in to introduce the poets. They had spent the past week practicing the delivery of their poems; learning the importance of going slooow, eNUNciating, and emphasizing the last line. All their hard work showed as they took to the stage with poise and assurance.
Sixth graders Shaniya and LaDeisha sailed elegantly through their first ever Busboys reading (plenty more to come, ladies!) Terrence, who had just come to Writing Club for the first time that afternoon, wowed the audience with his impromptu rap. Maybe the biggest cheer went to Renita, one of our Young Writers in Residence, who will be leaving for Allegany College of Maryland this fall. When Renita first came to Writing Club eight years ago, she was a tiny girl so shy she burst into tears at her first public reading. Today she delivers her poetry with a musical lilt and easy charisma. Renita, we’ll miss you so hard it hurts, but we’re so so excited for this next chapter in your life!
After the poetry reading, film director/visionary auteur of the century Tom Mallan got up to introduce the short films our students created this year. Under Tom’s dedicated guidance, students learned an enormous amount about what to do–and what not to do–on a movie set. They filmed three days a week, every week for six months, and out of that smorgasbord of footage Tom culled 40 minutes of elegant, heartfelt cinema. The movies will be online soon, so be on the lookout!
After the movies, there was plenty of time left for magazine signings, group photos, and some tentative sampling of the mysterious cuisine (hummus and olives) that Busboys had provided. It was a fantastic debut performance for our new students, and an exultant close to the year.
Huge thanks go out to:
- The hardworking, patient, adaptable staff at Busboys & Poets
- Our amazing red carpet paparazzi & security guards
- Ms. Bernitta cause she’s awesome!
- The Hart faculty and administration who have maybe the hardest jobs in the world, and yet still find time to be enthusiastic about our poetic shenanigans
- Everyone who provided students with rides to and from Busboys–we couldn’t have done the show without performers, and we couldn’t have the performers without you.