Last night I had the pleasure of attending a poetry slam at a local high school. It was the first time I had ever attended something like that. I have to admit that poetry is not my forte (except for song lyrics and Dr. Suess of course). So I was quite self-conscious, not so much about attending but they asked me to be a judge. I was helping out a fellow In Printer and I’m all about broadening my horizons so I thought, why not? Besides it was a good opportunity for us to promote In Print and work on getting some young blood into the group.
Having been to high school art shows before I had a feeling that we would be surprised at the talent we would find and I wasn’t disappointed. About fifteen or sixteen students bravely stood before the meager crowd and shared intimate bits of their lives. A lot of the subject matter was typical teenage angst about love and loss but that doesn’t mean their poems were typical. Each one was personal and filled with emotion. Some of the subject matter was scary and filled me with concern; suicide, abuse, random gun fire, things no young person should ever have to live through but there it was spoken right in front of us. There is no way of telling if those poems were from personal experience or interpretive, I only hope the school officials discreetly follow up on them. Either way it touched a nerve in those student and in me as well.
Several of the students were nervous but they were all eager to express themselves. Once the official slam was over and the judges votes were being tallied, several students continued to share their work. It was inspiring to be in the presence of such fearless writers. My hope is that they continue to write and continue to share. And bravo to the teachers who gave those young people a safe platform on which to express themselves.