This year at Seattle’s Folklife, some Roosevelt students were offered a unique opportunity to perform and share their talents at the annual music and culture festival hosted at Seattle Center. Juniors Max Taylor, one of Roosevelt’s Poet Laureate, and Meghan O’Khelley were among eight poets that performed at Folklife this year. The two artists received this opportunity after applying to be Seattle’s first Youth Poet Laureate. Taylor has been no stranger to performances at Roosevelt, whether at assemblies or Roosevelt’s open mic night, but he described this performance as different.
“What’s interesting is that at Roosevelt, like at and open mic, there’s usually a bit of censorship that’s necessary because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to put them on. This is more freeing,” he described, “I’ve had to censor stuff that I’ve done at Roosevelt but this gives me an opportunity to read it the way that I wrote it at Folk Life.” In his writing, Taylor has made his poetry geared more toward themes as opposed to specific people in his life. He explains his poems as dealing with “pretty vague” subjects such as existentialism and human insecurity and went into his performance confidently, even though having a time limit for his performance is a new challenge.
“I don’t get nervous in front of a lot of people but its something I really want so I guess I’m nervous about screwing it up,” he stated before his performance, “I think the bottom line is that I want to see good poetry and if I get beat by someone who says something really cool then I have no problem with that. I just want to do good for myself.” Taylor and the other performers from different Seattle high schools were all impressive on Saturday during their performances and showed no signs of being harmed by their time restrictions.
The eight finalists that showed their talents, drive, and voices during the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate presentation at Cornish Hall were all impressive. Ultimately, Cleveland’s Leija Farr won the title. While neither of Roosevelt’s poets won, they both performed well and showed that not only did they deserve to be there, but they also performed with all they had. This can be said for all of the performers on at Cornish Hall.
Watch Taylor’s intentionally untitled piece right here!