Students will express themselves at a Poetry Slam competition Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the atrium of the Brown Library.
“Slam poetry is sometimes called spoken word poetry. But when you do it as a competition, it is called a Poetry Slam,” said Al Haley, professor of English.
The Slam will begin with a competition between students in Haley’s poetry workshop. Haley will pick three members from the audience to be judges. They will score each poet’s presentation on a scale of 1-10.
“The person that has the most points wins,” Haley said. “The audience is encouraged to be a participator and yell to encourage the poet, even in the middle of the poem. People know from the audience’s response, relatively speaking, how well they did.”
After the class competes, any audience member can perform in the open mic portion of the evening.
Haley said another common misconception of slam poetry is that it has to be about politics, but students in the class, English 323, think otherwise.
Madi Seawright, sophomore psychology major from Grapevine said, “You can write a poem about literally anything. It doesn’t have to be super dramatic or emotional, although it can be. I personally believe that the best poems have a hidden meaning, for which you have to dive a little bit deeper to understand.”
Seawright said she will be presenting a poem called “Songbird,” about a woman in an abusive/manipulative relationship.
“I’ve always been interested in Slam Poetry, but I never really thought I was the type to be able to do it,” Seawright said. “When I saw that we would be having a performance, I figured it was finally time for me to try it out and see if it suited my style.”
Dr. Steven Moore, associate professor of English and honors studies, is auditing the class and presenting a slam poem.
“It gives voice to your personal experience, it gives voice to all of those challenges and problems that we have in life,” Moore said. “I think if we’re going to heal as a culture, we need to embrace more poetry. It is so powerful, and such an extraordinary way experiencing art at the finest level.”
Moore will be presenting a new slam poem on what some of us suffer through in life and dealing with brokenness in society.
“It will be a personal poem, but it’s also going to have an uplifting message for everyone,” Moore said.
Nathan Jowers, a sophomore Biblical Text major from Clearlake, will be presenting a poem on the emotions he has felt since the death of his second cousin.
“The biggest emotional attachment to it, is that I didn’t feel emotionally attached to it at the time,” Jowers said. “The most surprising thing is that at the time, it didn’t seem to affect me at all, which has in turn affected me a lot as I’ve gone through my life thinking ‘Oh wow, that’s a big thing in my life.’ The first time a relative died and they stayed with us for a year, and I just don’t recall it very often.”
Overall, the students, Dr. Moore, and Professor Haley encourage students to feel free to express themselves and their thoughts, ideas and perspectives.
“The misconception that many people have, I’ve noticed in this culture, they’ll say, ‘It’s only for English people, English majors, English professors.’ But no, its for all people. All people should embrace poetry,” said Moore. “If all of us would read more poetry, or write more poetry, perhaps that will help heal the world, it will help heal some of the problems that we have.”