Spoken word poet Mr. Miles Hodges visited ODA’s Upper School to perform at assembly and hold workshops with humanities classes.
He began by stating “I am just a human being trying to find out what my place is in this world.” The message struck home with our adolescent audience.
As he spoke about his youth, struggles growing up, and the importance of talking about social issues, students were encouraged to snap or otherwise acknowledge phrases that resonated with them. While the assembled student body was respectfully quiet for the majority of assembly, many students responded favorably when he spoke about his mother being his rock and living life to its fullest. His delivery through varying cadence, inflection, and volume created visual imagery with which students could identify. When asked what they learned from the presentation, Jenna Choueiri ’20 responded “Poetry is not just about rhyming or sending a small message. It’s about the way you present it and the body language to share a greater message.”
“[I learned that] poetry doesn’t have to be fancy to be powerful,” echoed Al Espinel ’19. Students were inspired by Mr. Hodges’ message and captivated by his ability to begin a poem conversationally in such a way that they didn’t realize he had started reciting. “He is undoubtedly the best speaker we've had,” said Susan Pacer ‘20.
In Creative Writing class, students dissected how to determine if a piece of art is good by identifying universally accepted criteria. As Mr. Hodges met with students involved in the literary magazine, they discussed the challenges and rewards of pursuing a career related to the arts. He also visited the Art and Social Purpose class, where students are exploring artistic voice and how to develop artistic voice to effectively “speak” through a visual medium. The students engaged in a philosophical conversation about personal identity and how important it is to explore the idea of who you are beyond what your name is.
Students were inspired by their interactions with this visiting artist throughout the day. Their appreciation for the art form and the words he shared was evidenced by several students staying to thank him after each class. ODA’s dedication to the importance of various art forms is part of the mission of our school and guests like Miles Hodges exemplify how accessible something as complex and abstract as poetry can be.