Sage Alum Inspires Students With Poetry

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Phil Kaye after his performance at Sage Hill School

A Sage alumnus, on a national spoken word poetry tour, visited his hometown last week to try inspire some young creative minds to find their voices.

Newport Beach native, Phil Kaye, 2006 Sage Hill School graduate, gave a performance at the Newport Coast school last Friday.

Kaye performed several pieces, including one he wrote and first performed while attending Sage. He spoke to the group of students, staff and members of the public about how he began, his time at the school and how others can get started writing and performing. He answered questions and invited students to perform any work they’ve written. He also hosted an after-school workshop.

His visit was part of the national movement Project VOICE (Vocal Outreach Into Creative Expression), which Kaye co-directs with fellow poet, Sarah Kay. The duo perform and teach spoken word poetry to students of all ages.

Project VOICE celebrates and inspires youth self-expression through spoken word poetry. The project was created by Kay in 2004, according to its website, and is meant to use spoken word poetry as an “instrument through which they can explore and better understand their culture, their society, and ultimately themselves.”

Project VOICE is meant to entertain, educate and inspire, Kaye said.

“Project VOICE. brings together performance, writing, and a supportive environment to inspire youth to recognize that their views are significant, valid, and necessary,” the website states.

It’s aims to “generate curiosity and enthusiasm about spoken word, and present this form of expression as a relevant means of communication.”

Kaye hopes the project will help students discover that poetry is something they can do and that it can be their form of self-expression, as well as teach them about writing and performing.

The project is also personally rewarding, Kaye said, because he sees young people become interested in poetry and can watch the progression and evolution of their writing.

He was inspired to start writing poetry after he went to a conference while a student at Sage Hill School and saw spoken word for the first time.

“I was absolutely floored,” he said. And he started writing.

“I started writing here, at Sage Hill, and part of [my] blossoming process was having a venue to try stuff out,” he told the audience.

It’s been wonderful to come back to Sage, he said. One of the first Project VOICE performances was at Sage, Kaye said, so that makes this visit even more meaningful.

“[Sage helped] on a lot of levels,” Kaye said. He had great teachers, he said, that helped him grow. Sage also gave encouragement and support, he said.

The young poet began writing and performing spoken word poetry at age 17. Since then, he has appeared on NPR, performed at Lincoln Center, and coached and performed on the 2011 Providence National Poetry Team. He published his first book, A Light Bulb Symphony, in 2011, and his work can be found regularly in CHAOS Magazine.

Spoken word poetry is hard to define, it’s a lot things, Kaye said, it’s a very open and free art form. Anyone interested should try it out, he encouraged.

“The biggest and simplest [piece of advice] is to just to start writing,” Kaye said.

There seems to be a underlying notion that there is a certain class, workshop or life experience someone has to have in order to start writing, Kaye said, but that’s not true.

“Anybody can do this,” he encouraged the audience.

He also suggests finding a community of writers, a support group from like-minded people who are also creating, he said.

“To have that community there to build and grow and share, and see what other people are doing and push yourself,” he said.

Visit for more information about Kaye. Visit for more information about Project VOICE.

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