One of the newest and youngest members of the Los Altos Slam Poetry Team, freshman Adam Hollingworth is already making a name for himself in the world of poetry. Adam has participated in both the freshman poetry slam and in the UDPS finals, helping to secure second place for the team. Despite Adam’s past experiences with performing poetry in front of crowds and his Acting 1 class, this poetry slam was the first large scale poetry competition that he had participated in. He does not know what the future holds for his poetry, but he is sure that he will continue with the art in high school.
July 6, 2017
Q: How did you get into poetry?
A: I didn’t write poetry until eighth grade but I was always fascinated by it. I got into poetry because of my brother, Jim. He was always a big influence in my life, and he started to do poetry in ninth grade. It transformed from me watching slam poets online to actually doing it here in high school. There’s also this rapper/poet called Watsky, and he wrote a poem called “Drunk Text Message to God”, and a little bit of my work is influenced by that.
Q: How did your brother impact your poetry?
A: My brother is probably my biggest role model… When I went to the school-wide poetry slam that he was at in ninth grade, I thought it was so cool. Instantly, when I got home, I started brainstorming about how I might write a poem and what it would be about. It was really inspiring.
Q: Could you elaborate more on that relationship?
A: I think that when I’m writing poetry, I sort of subconsciously ask myself, “How would Jim do this?” “How can I make this better than Jim’s?” I ask him for help a lot, when I’m stuck or need a new concept — then I’ll ask him what he would do. I try to be better than him, but even so, he’s a great poet. If I can take some of his advice and put my own spin on it, that’s sort of how I can become better than him.
Q: How do you gain inspiration for your poems and implement your own style?
A: It’s like self-deprecation, but comedically. As a straight white male living in Los Altos, I don’t have any global struggle that I can talk about. Coming across as someone that has something to say is my favorite part about poetry. I see oppression in the news, and I want to say something about that, but it’s hard to write a poem that doesn’t come across as white guilt or cultural appropriation. That’s another challenge with the poetry team, because with having such a privileged background, it makes it hard to not come across as privileged.
Q: What is your poem “Brains and Broteins” about?
A: I had seen a lot of poems in my English class that were great, but they were all pretty depressing and very serious… but I’ve never been great with serious poems, so I decided to write a poem that had some message of not conforming to society’s norms of masculinity. It was more doing a fun poem that I liked and didn’t have to stress about, letting the audience feel good after the performance. I’ve always been more intellectual than athletic. I’ve never been oppressed, so talking about something like this which is more trivial and trivialized in my writing makes it easier to talk about these things but also convey this underlying message that I don’t conform to society’s views of masculinity.
Q: What was your experience working with the team?
A: Being on the team is really exciting for me. It’s something completely different and it’s a little scary stepping out of your little comfort zone thing, but it’s also good to experience these kinds of things. The first time was definitely scary, getting up on the stage and performing this personal kind of poetry stuff, but now that I’ve done it a couple of times, it feels really cool and I feel a lot more confident on stage.
Q: How is performing in front of an audience?
A: Going to perform in front of a crowd for the quarterfinals of the UDPS was scary. I mean, being on a low stage with the bright lights in your face, it’s not like you can actually see the audience. But even if you can’t see the audience, it’s still really unnerving knowing they’re there. It’s really cool being part of a group poem though, just because I have my teammates literally right next to me, and if I get nervous I can just remind myself that they’re there.