Can Poetry Save Your Soul? [Speech Recording!]

“It’s okay to admit you’re not there yet,
but that you’re getting there.”

I did it. I gave my speech, finally, on poetry.

To be honest, uploading and sharing this recording makes me feel super embarrassed – I’ve just never been someone who likes recording myself in any form – but I’m genuinely proud of myself for going through with this and doing so well. Dare I say, a solid finish. I’m just… really happy. More than anything else – this is a personal achievement, testament of me coming full circle. I can’t even begin to describe what I feel — relieved, happy, grateful; gosh, just everything.

For the longest time from my first day here at Stanford, I’ve been trying and wanting to express my most authentic self. So choosing to give this narrative – my forte – speech for a class that has given me lots of stress and anxiety, no less – this is me going, “hey, this is me, all me.” This place… does little to my soul, we all know that too well by now, but on that same token, by exerting pressure and whatever else, this place has also challenged me and with that, allowed me to grow.

So hey Stanford, all that you are and aren’t — thanks for the past two years.

The TA who I’ve gotten pretty close to and who has watched and heard me from Day 1 i.e. when I was all over the place (“To be honest, you were a hot mess when you started out,” he admitted to me the other day to which I jokingly went, “GEE THANKS”) to the me now — he actually surprise-hugged me at the end! He was so proud and happy of how far I’ve come. Not gonna lie, I really feel like I hit a milestone tonight. Champ.

And so, here it is! “Can Poetry Save Your Soul?” by yours truly :) I recorded this when I practicing the speech this evening and it turned out okay. I am unmasking myself too, in a way aha, because I’ve only ever revealed myself in writing – now you get to finally hear what I sound like …and only for 8 minutes — I hope you enjoy!

PS This speech IS unscripted! Hence the random errs and grammatical errors here and there… also, accent — oh gosh, I sound so Malaysian! And I have to say, it’s also unreal, creepy even, how similar my voice is to Third Sis…!

Disclaimer: The poem I recited at the end is by Kharla M. Brillo — I’ve featured it before, here.


4 thoughts on “Can Poetry Save Your Soul? [Speech Recording!]

  1. A beautiful speech, jan!!! Thank you for sharing it with us; your voice is very distinct and lovely. I’m so happy for you. (:

    I found a parallel between us in one of your previous writeups on speeches and self-confidence. Of course my experience is nowhere near that of your caliber, but it holds the same meaning for me. Five years ago in my first year of high school I took a speech class at a community college (hence skipping the GE requirement now in college)… and now I’m actually asking myself all the time if that was the right thing to do. Back then, I was so young, so carefree, so confident—public speaking was easier, you know? I aced the class, naturally. But over the years even as I continued to take on more and more leadership positions I’ve found that as my self-confidence was being chipped away by harsh realities and wake-up calls, so was my public speaking ability. Sometimes I wonder where that magic went, and if I’ll ever be able to have it again. I can only hope to eventually find my way, just like you did. Thank you for being an inspiration! :)

    1. Thank youuu, my dear <3 How is the last week of the quarter treating you? Any plans for the summer? Congratulations on surviving freshman year!!!! *throws confetti*

      Also- thank you so, so much for leaving this comment with your own side of the story (always love hearing from others!) but you're right, when I read this I was immediately struck by how similar our …public speaking (life?) trajectories are. “But over the years even as I continued to take on more and more leadership positions I’ve found that as my self-confidence was being chipped away by harsh realities and wake-up calls, so was my public speaking ability. “ I relate completely. But you know, if it’s one thing that I can advise – it’s that you don’t let your light, your worth, your potential and most importantly your voice, to diminish despite recognizing and acknowledging reality – that yes it’ll hit you in the gut and test you over and over again …but just cos the magic’s misplaced doesn’t mean your authentic self has to, too. I think that’s where I lost, figuratively and literally, back then – I defined myself too much on a slew otherness that when they disappeared, so did I. So recognize that it won’t be easy, but remind yourself that not all road that is long and hard takes with them your sense of self. You got this!! I believe in you :)

      (and thank you, always, for believing in me :))

      1. I find that at the end of a quarter things start to slow down for me—final projects replace homework, classes trickle out one by one, etc. so I’m loving the pace! Finals next week could really make or break me though :( I’ll worry about summer plans after that! All in all it’s been a good year and there’s nothing major I would’ve done differently aside from procrastinating less haha. Congrats on (soon) finishing your masters at Stanford!!!

        And thank you so much for the advice! I once wrote a note-to-self that went something like this, “The moment you start addressing some of the more complicated things in life, it becomes hard not to see the simple things in life through a critical lens.” I think that’s what happened to me, honestly. The more problematic I came to view my life and the world as, the more difficult it became to articulate myself with ease in front of an audience—that young and innocent resolve to openly face society simply because there is no reason not to… has now been driven away by a plethora of reasons. But it’s another kind of confidence I seek now, one that like you said acknowledges reality for what it is but retains my authentic self nonetheless. I have a long way to go but I have faith that I’ll get there someday; so again, thanks for everything :)

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