Spoken word poet Sarah Kay visited The Hun School on February 13 for a performance and Q&A session with sophomores and seniors at the John Andrew Saks ’31 Auditorium. Ms. Kay was welcomed to campus as part of the Centennial Speaker Series designed to provoke thought and stretch understanding of real-world topics and issues. Ms. Kay, who has performed and taught poetry in 30 countries, was a speaker at TED Talks and her video has been viewed over 11 million times.
“I was introduced to Sarah Kay through a student in my Seminar 10 class a few years ago,” says Radha Mishra, director of college counseling and Centennial Speakers committee head. “She’s compelling and I knew she’d appeal to our student community.”
Ms. Kay began her performance with a poem about leaving New York City, where she lived with her family on the Lower East Side, to travel to Montauk, New York for one week each year. Her poem took listeners from her younger years through her awkward teens and to her 30s, all while making the coming-of-age experiences and the seaside landscape come alive through movement, expressions and rhythm. Prior to each poem’s performance, Ms. Kay shared insight into the story behind it. Inspiration ranged from first love and connecting with people in a foreign land to a heartfelt thank you to an influential teacher. “I’m trying to figure something out,” she says of the impetus to write about certain subjects. “My brain puzzle solves it.”
One of Ms. Kay’s most moving poems took the audience full circle from her experience as an 8-year-old at school during the 9/11 attacks on New York to her experience as a teacher in Jakarta during a bombing in theIndonesian capital. Coincidentally, Ms. Kay bumped into a current Hun student who was also a student at that same school in Jakarta during her teaching stint.
Following her performance, Ms. Kay held a question and answer session for students in Dr. Bucy’s and Ms. Martin’s classes, as well as a session with Mr. Esher’s playwriting class. Students posted questions about the power of poetry, how she handles writer’s block, her expectations of the audience, and how she finds the inspiration behind her poems. In response to a question about whether creativity can be taught or if you’re simply born with it, she was quick to respond with a relatable situation. “You don’t step onto a basketball court and expect to be Steph Curry. You get better in the practice of it.”
The Hun School of Princeton is an independent, coeducational, private day and boarding college preparatory school. Student-centered, hands-on learning prepares students for the global community in which they will live and work.