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GASP Assembly Speaker Oompa Williams

GASP Assembly Speaker Oompa Williams

“There are so many things the world calls ugly and my intention is to make them beautiful,” poet and hip-hop artist Lakirya (Oompa) Williams told students at the GASP (Gender and Sexuality Perspectives) assembly. Self-described as “hood, queer, black, womynist, orphan, auntie, sister, friend and teacher,” Oompa performed four of her pieces, which weave personal stories to explore identity, poverty, family and society.

“I tell stories that I’ve felt shame around, about being black, being queer, being a ghetto kid,” said Oompa, who grew up in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. “These stories are specific to my life. All of our stories are hugely important, even the ones that you don’t want to tell.”

Oompa spoke to students about how she recently left a career in teaching to focus full time on her poetry and music, and how she had to “get out of [her] own way” to find success. “If you have something to give the world, just go for it.”

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Student Writers Earn Numerous Accolades

Student Writers Earn Numerous Accolades

It was a bountiful spring of writing awards for numerous creative and nonfiction writing students. Out of the 28 students who earned 45 regional scholastic writing honors back in January, five won national recognition. Caroline Bragg (III) won a gold medal for flash fiction, Erika Yip (II) won a gold medal for poetry, Sarah Hsu (I) won a silver medal for flash fiction, and Clara Wolff (I) won a silver medal for poetry. Notably, Akua Owusu (I) won a silver medal with distinction for her writing portfolio, which consisted of eight pieces of poetry and nonfiction essays.

“One of the essays I wrote for my nonfictions class,” says Akua. “It’s about my father and his immigration story of coming to America from Ghana. It’s also about how I think about success and living up to expectations. When I first started writing in my English classes, it was hard to write about personal stuff, but now I’m comfortable writing about stuff closer to home. You gain confidence in yourself.”

Erika’s gold medal-winning poem was informed by her “new role as an upperclassman, inspiring me to rethink how previous years experiences shape my identity today. ‘When We Are Old Enough’ is both an ode to childhood summers and a mourning for the gradual loss of innocence and ambition through age. The poem begins with scenes of purity and illustrates the speaker’s attraction toward the mystery of being older. As the poem progresses to the second stanza, the speaker grows to feel love and lust, yet the moment is only fleeting. The short-lived moment is compared to the fraying of telephone poles with the passing of countless summers.”

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