Margot Wehrle is visibly excited about her newfound passion for slam poetry.
The Grade 9 student at Oak Bay High already had a voice, as an active musician. She plays violin, guitar, bass and ukulele – though she suggests that latter isn’t a real instrument – sings in three choirs and is in the orchestra and R&B band at school.
A voracious reader, the 14 year old enjoys writing her own music, poetry and creative writing.
“I attack books, they’re gone in a day,” she said with a laugh.
She’s enjoying high school English, learning beyond basic grammar, delving into new structures and ways of analyzing writing.
It holds her interest.
The excitement is palpable in her voice as Wehrle retells how a couple of months ago, her English teacher assigned poetry with a prompt – identity.
She wrote half the poem that class.
Identity was finished the next day when she was bored – her words – while the math teacher explained trinomials.
Her mind had drifted to what defined her and she realized it was more what doesn’t that needed saying.
“I have this massive inspiration that I never draw from,” she explained.
Wehrle is blind.
At school, she uses a cane to navigate the hallways and a refreshable braille display to take notes and read.
But there’s so much more to her, that Identity explains.
“I don’t judge you based on whether you’re classically good looking. I don’t judge based on your skin colour or the rainbow you may have threaded into a bracelet or pinned to your bag when most of society inadvertently would.
I get to know people, so in a way I get to see.
But sometimes I’m not given the same courtesy as I have unintentionally given everyone else in my life.”
So how does Wehrle identify?
“I identify with music, the balance of organized sound and silence that can bring tears to your eyes or a smile to your lips, that can make you move and dance and laugh …” she says in Identity.
She’s performed the piece several times now, and attended her first youth open mic night in December.
Wehrle left inspired and impressed by the room full of talented people with something to say.
Identity is the first spoken word she’s written, but it garnered a lot of attention and even a mentor in Victoria artist Marie Metaphor.
“I love being able to make people feel something. I love that I can do it in this cool, beautiful way” Wehrle said.
Music is still No. 1 – there’s that being the next Taylor Swift dream to chase – but she’s looking to create a slam poetry club at Oak Bay High. She already has a teacher sponsor in place.
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