High school poets are typically limited in their medium of expression to a month-long English unit, a lonely notebook at home or an audience of a handful of other poetry lovers. However, on one glorious evening each year, these artists are given their moment in the spotlight to share their brilliance to a much broader audience, be it in ballad, epic or sonnet form.
The annual Poetry SLAM competition will be held Wednesday, April 2, at 7 p.m. Approximately 20 students share their original poetry with the assembled audience. Anyone is welcome to participate in the SLAM, whether to seriously compete for prizes, communicate beliefs or have a good time. The event always draws a diverse field of competitors, providing and an equally varied selection of poetry.
All participants compete for a number of different awards and prizes handed out by a jury of five judges, typically made up of English teachers. The two main prizes are given to the Best Poem and Best Performance, both of which are awarded $250. The panel also hands out special awards to other notable poems.
The uncensored open-mic format of the Poetry Slam provides an opportunity for students to express creativity and insight that may not be apparent on a regular day.
“I enjoy seeing a student I didn’t know offering something that completely changes how I view them,” event organizer and English teacher Galen Rosenberg said.
Junior Megan Stewart-Cole, who won Best Poem last year, agrees.
‘It’s fun hearing things from people who have never come to Poetry Club who’ve written poems for their classes or just in their spare time,” Megan said. “But they seem to be really well prepared.”
As the Poetry SLAM has gained popularity in recent years, Rosenberg is considering new changes to spice up the competition. In an attempt to boost participation even further, he is considering moving the grand prize from $250 to $500 if tickets are sold out. Tickets, sold for $3, go toward the prize money.
Rosenberg is also considering tweaking the judging panel. In addition to English teachers, he is attempting to contact poets at Stanford in the Stegner Creative Writing Fellowship to add a different perspective.
The Poetry Club, which meets on Thursdays during seventh period in room 401, offers the chance for students to read their work to their peers as an advanced screening and for feedback. All students are encouraged to enter the contest.
“It’s a really fun experience,” Megan said. “Even if you’re not that good at poetry, it’s a way to hone your skills and you can say whatever you want to say.”