Langley Has Talent finalist Rachel Sault proved during the semifinals on March 28 that sheâ€™s quite a trooper.
And the 18-year-old poet is colouring outside the lines for the annual talent competition, which in the past has been dominated by musicians, singers, and dancers.
A soon-to-be Brookswood Secondary graduate, Sault successfully made it through the semifinal round at Christian Life Assembly (CLA), despite arriving home late the previous night from a 17-day trip to the British Isles.
Sault admitted that jet lag tugged at her on the heels of her tour through Britain and Scotland, where she visited her 24-year-old sibling, the aptly named Jet Tangerine who sang in last springâ€™s LHT.
For her part, Jetâ€™s kid sister took a risk this year by introducing the LHT judges and audience to a relatively unusual form of performance art â€“ slam poetry.
Sault wowed the judges during auditions at Kwantlen Polytechnic Universityâ€™s Langley campus.
â€œI thought if I got in, good for me, if I didnâ€™t bad for me,â€ she said with a laugh.
From her first audition onward, Sault has impressed everyone involved, including Peter Luongo, chair of the LHT and part of the contestâ€™s selection committee
â€œRight off the top she was extremely effective in her speaking and her presentation,â€ Luongo said. â€œWe were, quite frankly, very skeptical about the idea of reciting poetry but we were blown away.â€
Luongo said not only is Sault a â€œvery capable writer, but matching her level of the written word is her ability to speak it.â€
He added, â€œWe were very entertained.â€
LHT is about variety, but that was by no means the reason Sault has advanced as far as she has, according to Luongo.
â€œThis wasnâ€™t a token gesture at all,â€ Luongo said. â€œShe very much deserved to get in there based on her written piece, and her presentation. And she adds to the presentation which is something weâ€™re thrilled about.â€
Saultâ€™s personified poem, The Cork The Bottle, focuses on objects and love, and the separation anxiety a cork suffers after itâ€™s popped loose from the bottle it had grown so attached to.
â€œThe cork was upset with his breakup with the bottle,â€ Sault shared. â€œI just thought it would be nicer to write a funnier, quirky poem.â€
A lifelong fan of writing â€“ she plans to work towards a doctorate in literature with the goal of becoming an English professor â€“ Sault didnâ€™t start penning poetry until she was in Grade 9.
â€œIâ€™ve always been good at rhymes â€“ Dr. Suess was my favourite,â€ Sault said.
â€œI was in ninth grade and we had an open assignment on writing a poem about something, and [my teacher] told me I should really consider writing slam because from the writings that I had given her, I would be really good at it.â€
Sault didnâ€™t know what slam poetry was, but with help from YouTube, got a crash course.
While The Cork The Bottle physically took Sault roughly 10 minutes to write once she put pen to paper, the words ruminated in her head for quite some time before the metaphorical puzzle pieces came together.
â€œI had thought about it at dinnertime when my parents were drinking wine and we had the cork sitting on the table,â€ Sault said. â€œI thought about it for three more dinners, and then I went into my room and I wrote it.â€
The afternoon of the semifinal, a relaxed Sault admitted she wouldnâ€™t be able to offer the razzle dazzle that dancers, musicians, acrobats, and silk aeralists will bring to the stage later that evening, but added there is an intimacy about spoken word that helps connect her with the audience.
â€œWhen you have lights and costumes and things like that, it sort of creates a barrier with you and the audience, whereas with this, you are engaged with them,â€ Sault said.
The adrenaline of being on stage and having all eyes fixed upon her, along with her experience with Brookswood Secondaryâ€™s drama department, benefited Sault greatly.
â€œIâ€™ve done a lot of drama at Brookswood [Secondary] and lots of improv,â€ she said.
Sault will recite a different poem that she wrote, A Fable Able, during the April 18 final at CLA.
The Cork The Bottle
I should know better than most
Iâ€™ve seen both sides of you
Iâ€™ve seen the sweet, the bitter
Your core may be thick
Your neck may be long
You may be cold
Your shell may be strong
But itâ€™s all an illusion
A deceiving appearance for someone as fragile as glass
But I still love you
It may not be my place to fit
To squeeze into your life making sure that your head is screwed on right
But I do
Love makes me do it
Because bottled up inside you is a sweetness
Itâ€™s rich and itâ€™s pure
And I know that itâ€™s genuine
And I know you appreciate me protecting it but sadly, sadly Im no fool
I see right through you
Beyond the label smacked on your chest
Ive watched you mature
Iâ€™ve watched you age
I know that there is no cure
Itâ€™s cruel how you keep your culture cooped up in a cage
I learnt that under the slightest bit of added pressure
Youâ€™d push me away
So I left
And when I left I knew our love poured out of you like a flood
And you just gave it away like it was a waste
An irritation to be free of
And those people consumed it and left you with nothing
And then you were empty
You were drained of the past
You were nothing more than a hollow piece of glass
And I learnt at that moment
When a hole was drilled into my heart
That before you come back to me
Whining and snivelling
Spilling the last drops of love that you have before my feet
Iâ€™ll tell you right know
I will only say one thing
Put a cork in it