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"What the wind told me"

Ethan Stiffler '25

Nov 4, 2022

Friday, October 28, the Mercersburg Academy community gathered on the Irvine Hall patio for the first Spoken Word event of the year to listen to poems, stories, music, and more. 

Michele Poacelli, Writing Center Director and English Department Head, helps organize the event. “I thought that spoken word this year was terrific. I loved how much variety there was; how many people did poetry, told stories, played music and sang. I thought that it really showcased the talents and passions of Mercersburg students,” said Poacelli. 

She especially likes Spoken Word because of the ”unpolished and raw performances.” 

“There are many opportunities for students to showcase their talents in other performances, and those performances receive feedback and are polished. In Spoken Word, it’s more about having fun and having the courage to perform for the audience. We get to see less of the perfection and more of the genuine, authentic sharing,” Poacelli said. 

Performers on Friday ranged from musicians to poets. Ethan Stiffler ’25 said, “I enjoy performing because the learning and growth experience is always great.” Stiffler performed an original song on guitar as well as a guitar duet with Ian Kim ’23. 

Cocona Yamamoto ‘25, another Spoken Word performer, said, “I play the guitar and sing, so I thought it would be a great experience to perform at Spoken Word.” 

A tradition as old as anyone can remember - that of singing “Redbone” - was performed by Bob Hollis ‘24 this fall. “I’ve always loved spoken word and I haven’t consistently performed in them before, but there is a small tradition of Redbone being the closing act for Spoken Word. I asked Ms. Poacelli if she had anyone singing it yet. She didn’t and offered me the spot,” said Hollis. 

Audience members enjoyed the performances. “We loved Spoken Word this year, especially Ian Kim and Ethan Stiffler’s performance. We were not expecting the collaboration, and the combination between the acoustic and the electric was unreal,” said Isabel Su ’23, Plern Pibuldham ’23, and Jerry Wei ’25. 

“I loved Spoken Word this year, especially Bob’s performance. The whole event was very lively and fun,” said Jesse Loberg ’26.

Mel Cort ‘23 and Kevin Hang ‘24 helped emcee the fall Spoken Word. As hosts, they kept the energy high and introduced the performers. Hang said, “I love the community gathering and having a good time during spoken word. I went up to Mel one day and asked, ‘Mel, can I cohost one day?’ They agreed and talked to me last weekend to ask if I’d host at Spoken word.” 

“I enjoyed Spoken Word. The cookies are great, the writings are great, the vibes are great, and I’m having a great time,” said Cort. 

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