I’ve always been impressed and awed by the courage of the performing artist. To venture up on stage, to act, to sing,to play, to improvise before an audience involves a level of self-confidence and vulnerability which I would find very daunting. It occurred to me on Friday night that the act of sharing one’s own poetry is particularly courageous. Think about it, not only are you on stage before an audience, but you are up there laying bare your innermost feelings, thoughts and ideas.
Fifteen brave souls signed up to share their verse at last Friday night’s Slamorama. Not just ARTech students either, the slam was open to anyone from the community and a handful of students from the high school also joined the fun. Visiting poet, Diego Vasquez, compered the evening’s proceedings. After our own Todd, as the “sacrificial poet for the evening, shared a p0em about the joys climbing trees with his son, the student poets went through three rounds. Five volunteer judges voted on each performance until the poets were whittled down to a final four. With the judges unable to separate them, all four were challenged to take a minute to improvise.
Andy walked away with the top prize, but, cliched though it may sound, all the participating poets and the audience were Friday night’s winners. I say the audience, because this is very much an interactive event. There’s not many rules to a Poetry Slam but one clear expectation is that all the poets are cheered and encouraged.
As you might expect, topic matter ranged from the humorous to the tragic, from the trite to the weighty. I found it to be a compelling experience, not least because each student-poet brought their own style of delivery to the microphone. Of course, this didn’t just happen by chance. The ARTech poets had spent an intense week of workshops with Diego. His week of residency was organized by Ginger, Lori and Annie. David Henke wrote a nice piece in the Northfield News about the residency. The momentum for a week like this was built through Annie’s weekly creative writing workshops, a poety May Term led by Scott and Lori, and a field trip to see the Mayhem Poets in action at the Children’s Theater.
As well as writing grants, students raised money by packing groceries at Econo-foods. Robert Graves claimed that There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either. Well, Rob, that’s not entirely true in the world of of the spoken-word slam. The top three “winners” from Friday night’s event bagged a a cash prize ,and all the poets walked away with a gift voucher for Hogan Bros.
If you would like to learn more about Poetry Slams, check out this link.