Belmont Hill Welcomes Regie Gibson to Campus

Earlier this month, the Belmont Hill community welcomed to campus, poet, songwriter, and author, Regie Gibson. Throughout his career, Mr. Gibson performed, taught, and lectured at schools and universities. His goal is to help teach and mentor young men. He was once a young man trying to find his way, and needed someone to help guide him. He mentions that he “sees it as a responsibility.” When Regie was a little kid, he realized the importance of having someone to look up to. He originally fell in love with poetry because of his passion for words. Comparing two things that are not supposed to make sense and combining them into one meaning helped Mr. Gibson with writing and understanding literature in school. For instance, a “train” and a “thought” would not normally be thought of as two individual things that should go together. However, once merged into a phrase, it makes perfect sense.

Regie’s great-grandfather was illiterate, forcing him to tell Mr. Gibson stories by mouth rather than read them himself. When he was younger, his love for Shakespeare and language inspired him to take a more creative path in writing and music composition. Some of the people Regie also looked up to were Walt Whitman and Pablo Neruda because of their larger, broader voices. They both influenced society in their own way as South American and American Democratic poets.

Mr. Gibson performed poems and highlighted the importance of connecting with an audience throughout the week. Each day, Mr. Gibson and Dr. Tift worked together to put on gatherings where students could perform original poems and attend writing workshops where the students learned how to craft and rehearse a poem of their own. At the beginning of the week, every boy in the school was assigned to memorize and rehearse a poem in front of their English class. The boys in the class would then vote for one boy to send to the finals, where they would present their poem in front of the whole school in the Hamilton Chapel. This annual Belmont Hill tradition has been carried on since the origins of school history. The boys finished their poetry week by gathering in the chapel to hear the finalists perform and listen to a not only powerful but moving poem by Mr. Gibson.

When asking Mr. Gibson about the finalists’ performances, he mentioned that only two boys, the youngest of the group, chose poems by females. “Their youth allowed them to open up more than some of the older boys,” Regie said. He talked about the importance and acceptance of being different and how being emotional in such situations is okay. Regie said that he does not talk about him much, but Bill Clinton had one quote that stuck with him; “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

“Memorization is key to a powerful performance. We truly don’t do it enough!” These words highlighted Mr. Gibson’s opinion on how Belmont Hill has incorporated poetry into everyday life. He mentioned that we must “wrestle with the fact that poetry becomes a part of us.” Through his final days, a common theme he emphasized was the simplicity of poetry. He highlighted that human beings are complex and that we must recognize that in order to grow. Slowing things down and not judging people too quickly are two ways in which Regie believes that we can fully embrace the meaning of art and poetry.

It was clear that Mr. Gibson impacted the boys and helped to shape their interest in poetry and public speaking in a significant way. Dr. Tift is “grateful to Regie for bringing a starburst of wonderful ideas, perspectives, wisdom, and—of course—poetry to our community during his week in residence. And I am grateful to the students for embracing their time with him.” She also thanked the “Rashes family for their support of the Dr. Jeffrey A. Fast Visiting Authors and Writers Fund that made Regie’s visit possible.  It allows Belmont Hill to bring writers to campus each year to share their art.”

The community sincerely thanks Mr. Gibson for helping each and every one of us understand what it means to be a true poet.

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