The Ring of Fire

By Feroze Mohideen

Briarcliff High School is widely considered a patron of the arts. You’ll find our artists busy painting landscapes in Dr. Linville’s room, typing furiously in the Writing Lab, performing pieces and routines in the orchestra, band and dance studios, or displaying their athletic prowess on the turf field.

Many true artists of our school, however, have no need for showcasing their talents in front of crowds. Instead, they gather together and practice their innate ability in isolation from the outside world, free from public attention. Their unique location allows them to perform without being heard and congregate without judgment, but our lack of recognition for this elite group of individuals has left a deafening silence resounding within our halls. And I believe that this silence has existed for long enough.

They call themselves the Ring of Fire, and they rap.

“Everyone got like Nike trainers on they feet,

but really imma train ‘em how to get this heat,

how to get they bars up; when I’m spittin’ you do not stop me,

like I was LeBron on the Heat.”

~ Matt Murray, aka ‘The Vibe’

Members of ‘the ring’, as it has become colloquially known, meet at a predetermined location at predetermined times to practice their poetic performances.  New members are only inducted into the high society through invitation by a current member and must pass a rigorous set of trials to ensure that they are dedicated to the cause. Casual reciters beware; the ring only welcomes the very best bards of the school.

A rare screenshot of their communication – note the vernacular these members use to indicate their agreement: ‘word’

At every meeting, each member is expected to prepare a sort of lyrical offering to the group to display his technique.  As shown in the excerpt above, these offerings can involve very abstract, high-level interpretations of the English language; however, new members aren’t expected to hold such masteries of rhetoric and meter as those of The Vibe, so they need not be discouraged. In fact, nearly every member of the ensemble goes by some pseudonym to indicate status and prestige – Quadroon and Houligan Lou are two that come to mind.

On some occasions, members will participate in a mock ‘battle’ of words. These skirmishes involve two reciters competing to quickly construct elaborate yet mellifluous passages of poetry in a time crunch, which are then judged by a jury of professionals in order to name a winner. These events can become quite heated, as everyone in the ring quickly becomes excited by the oratorical skills displayed.

Beneath it all, however, I believe that the basic premise of the group is to launch the English language into a new era of sophistication and grace. It is truly a marvel to see students with such a love of verse and poetry, and I applaud these scholars for their dedication to the advancement of our tongue.


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