Cross Campus

Teach for America Fellow at LHS Shares Slam Poetry in Classroom

“Delivering a poem by spoken word is like giving the world a piece of yourself,” said Marieljane Bastien, a first year teacher at HLD.

“Writing is a living thing for me,” said Bastien, who was born and raised in Boston. “I write about personal things that have occurred with my life so when I am on stage, I am sharing that moment with my audience.”

Although she only discovered her passion for writing in college at Boston University, Bastien says she was “obsessed” with words as a child. As she struggled with dyslexia when she was younger, Bastien never liked numbers. Although her dyslexia also caused her to struggle with words, she found them more malleable and fun to play with. Playing with words stuck with her and she eventually became a poet.

“Writing keeps me sane. Some people run. I write,” said Bastien.

She started writing when she was 12 years old, beginning with short poems and stories. In college as an English minor, Bastien began experimenting with different styles of writing and fell in love with the spoken word medium. Bastien considers herself a visual learner, as reflected in her imagery-heavy work.

In her poem, “Love in Respect to Distance, Smell, and Time,” she contrasts the images of wet and dry to symbolize a long distant relationship. “When I am stressed or have something on my mind I have to write it down or it will stick with me all day,” said Bastien, “I am a bookworm so I am definitely inspired by books and the more traditional poets.”

While Bastien has yet to perform in front of a big crowd, she makes use of her classroom as a space to perform. She has brought poetry to her students in the Freshmen Leadership course.

Bastien is in the Teach for America program. “I’ve always had a passion for youth and education. I’ve spend most of my life working with youth within the court system in Boston and I decided to go into teaching to change the environment in which I interacted with the youth. Teach for America allowed me to do this,” she said.

Although her placement in Lawrence was chosen for her, Bastien loves working at HLD. “I became a teacher because I love words and I wanted to share this with my students,” said Bastien. “The students here are a rambunctious bunch and they always keep me on my toes. Also the other teachers and staff are super friendly and supportive. The hour drive here every morning is definitely worth it. “

Next on her list, she hopes to explore Lawrence and maybe one day perform at El Taller, a local bookstore in Lawrence.