Montrose’s Poetry Jam Returns Over Zoom!


Students and teachers snap their applause for the poetry performers at the Virtual Poetry Jam!

The day before the Poetry Jam, Montrosians also performed in the virtual Coffeehouse during Common Homeroom! Read more about the stunning student performances in an article by rising Clubs & Classes Editor Elyza Tuan ‘23.

Two years ago, our dear graduated Editor-in-Chief Gabby Landry ‘18 hosted a Poetry Jam for the school and everyone in the school was buzzing with excitement. Montrose had never held a Poetry Jam before. So, when Maevis Fahey ‘21 and Jenn Uche ‘22 said that they were hosting another one, the excitement returned with full intensity.

Last Thursday, March 30, Montrose’s Poetry Jam came back — virtually! From 3-4 PM, twenty-two students and faculty members shared their favorite poems with a Zoom audience of over sixty listeners. Even during quarantine, we found a way to come together and enjoy time to reflect through poetry.

March is also National Poetry Month, so the Poetry Jam was a fitting way to celebrate the occasion. While planning for the event, Jenn and Maevis felt unsure about how many people would attend. Especially because of how tiring screen time can be, it was difficult to predict how many people would be interested in coming to the event. Thankfully, plenty of teachers and students came to the Jam! When asked about why she decided to attend, Spandana Vagwala ‘22 said: “I thought it would be really nice because we don’t have the opportunity to meet each other in person and share what we’re reading and learning. Poetry is something that can capture the way someone is feeling… To have an event like that is really appropriate right now [in quarantine].”

Caroline Reichard ’21 read We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence and Caged Bird by Maya Angelou, two beautiful poems which she read with passion. Caroline ’21 said that she chose these poems because “they were really cool and sounded nice when I said them out loud.” Sarah Ling ’20 was inspired by her Literature class to choose her poem, Holy Sonnets: Death, be not proud by John Donne. Sarah ’20 said: “I think in some poems you just feel power, you know? And this is certainly one.”

Just like how “the wand chooses the wizard” in Harry Potter, the poem chooses the reader. Poems come in all different shapes and sizes and they all resonate differently with each person. That’s one of the best parts about poetry — everyone can have different interpretations for one poem. When asked about her favorite part of the Poetry Jam, Caroline ’21 responded, “I really liked hearing people’s original poems.” Many people at the Poetry Jam, such as Mrs. Keefe, Elyza Tuan ’23, Mrs. Cahill Farella, Olivia Lipson ’25, Julia Luster ’26, and Neha Sunkara ’21 read their own poetry. Each poem read at the Poetry Jam was different but all were amazing.

One common fact about poetry jams everywhere is that people snap instead of applauding (see photo above!). Snapping originated from the Beatniks, poetry readers from the 1950s who met in apartment basements. The Beatniks snapped so that they would not disturb the upstairs residents in the apartments. Soon, all poetry meetings consisted of snapping although most of them are not held in basements anymore (some of them still probably are somewhere…). While applauding demonstrates that someone appreciates you or your accomplishments, snapping shows that someone felt struck because of your poetry. In the Montrose Poetry Jam, we silently snapped in front of our cameras on mute to continue the tradition of snapping during poetry jams. “Silent snaps” enabled listeners to hear poets reciting their poems, but still show appreciation for the poet’s words. 

During quarantine, it’s easy to feel strange when you haven’t been to a CHR in the M&M or a basketball game in the A&A for weeks. The Poetry Jam and the Coffeehouse events that happened last week were meant to bring us together as a school and remind each other that we can be together while we’re apart.

Jenn ‘22 and Maevis ‘21 hope to bring back the Poetry Jam next year and continue the tradition. Poetry can bring us together as a school community — even when it feels like we couldn’t be more separated.

Special thanks to our 22 performers and to all of those who attended the event!

Neha Sunkara ‘21, Food Editor and Maevis Fahey ‘21, Editor-in-Chief,