School Issues: All About the Slam
Even if you don’t like poetry; even if you don’t like high culture and academic pursuits, you probably like slam poetry. It’s Henry Rollins’ territory. Slam poetry has the rhythm and intensity of a rap. Videos featuring slam poetry go viral with upwards of 15 million hits on YouTube.
And the very best in local slam poetry is about to go on display for one night in Columbus. The Columbus City Schools Poetry Slam is slated for Saturday, May 2, from 6-9pm at East High School. Eighty students, in teams of five or six, will be competing for the title.
No props, no costumes, the students and teams are judged in the same sort of way any art is judged. According to coordinator Wyk McGowan, a panel of judges, including professors and poets, rate the performances on a score of 1-10 based on initial impression.
Tenth grader, Asias Brooks will be competing on stage with a poem about the contrast between appearances and reality, with a tie-in response to violence. Says Brooks, “I always wanted to express my gift to people and get noticed for what I do. I love competition, and I like to hear other peoples’ stories and raps.”
The student describes the writing process as a lengthy one, with lots of back and forth with a coach, in search of the right words and sounds.
McGowan has been coordinating this event for seven years. The English teacher at Eastmoor Academy says, “After having several school-wide poetry slams at my school, Eastmoor Academy, I was so impressed with the talent I saw that I had the idea of creating an All-District Slam. I received the district’s approval through ELA coordinator Sandy Cox, and contacted other schools about their interest.”
That’s where it started. This year, student teams from eleven schools will take the stage in East High School’s giant auditorium. The winners will earn the Sandy Cox memorial trophy. Cox died in a tragic car accident in September.
Tickets to the event are only $2. If you want to get an idea of what it looks like, check out this video from last year’s Columbus City Schools Poetry Slam winner, Chris Loos: