The second Poetry Slam of the year awards self-expression at Ewald Public Library


Photo by Emma Russell '17

Group photo of winner of the second poetry slam of the year. The next poetry slam event is scheduled to take place in April.

The second Poetry Slam of the year was held this past Tuesday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m. in the Ewald Public Library. The event was ran by English teacher Harry Campion and judged by randomly chosen students. The students announced winners were, first place, Emilio Gracia ’20, second place Phelan Johnson ’18, and third place Joelle Reich ’18.

Campion said he was very pleased with the outcome of the Slam, he was especially happy with the new faces that showed to enjoy the poetry, he said.

“The audience was really into it and the judges were pretty consistent,” Campion said. “Everybody seemed to have fun and that’s really my major goal, I want people to enjoy the poetry. I don’t want it to be about the competition, necessarily. I mean the competition is fun, but I don’t think it should be about the competition, I think it should be about everybody having a great time.”

As an activity of the people, poetry slams are not intended to be judged by literature professors, or professional poets, Campion said. So, in order to follow those intentions, five people are chosen to judge the slammer’s poems with a scoring scale of 0.1 to 10.0.

“I always have a couple people who’ve been there before, who were hot to judge,” Campion said. “But, I love to have a couple novice judges, who have never done it before and maybe never even seen a slam before. Because, it’s all about connecting with everybody, not just connecting with people who are going to get your poetry, because they’re poets themselves.”

Part of the reason for holding these slams is to prepare students for the Michigan Speech Coaches Spring Tournament and Conference that is held at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac every year, Campion said.

“It’s not just for the team, it’s for anybody who wants to enjoy poetry. The team certainly uses it to gain some momentum and see what works in front of a crowd and what doesn’t,” Campion said.

Along with Campion is Garcia, who is also very content with the results of the event, Garcia said. These slams help Garcia prepare for the competition in Mackinac, specifically with boosting his confidence levels.

“I think it was a confidence booster, because I hadn’t been super confident about my slams,” Garcia said. “I did place the last one we had, but this one was a lot more pleasing, not because I won or whatever, but I just felt that my poems were a lot more powerful.”

After taking the Creative Writing class here at South, Garcia, became hooked on literature, he said. Excited to continue sharing and influencing, he started coming to Poetry Workshop on Tuesday’s after school where he organizes, combines his poems and makes them stronger, he said. From there, he was roped into working and perfecting his poetry for the Poetry Slams.

“I guess it’s just something I got passionate about, because I realized it was a way that I could express myself really easily,” Garcia said. “It’s not about winning for me, it’s being able to get applause for your work.”

Jack Hensien ’17, who took part in the poetry slam this past Tuesday and last year, noticed an improvement in the area of developing an acceptance of critiques from his peers, he said.

“They’re giving you good ideas, they’re giving you good suggestions, they’re kind of begging you to explore the topics that you choose a lot more than you have,” Hensien said. “And that can really push you to accomplish or write about things you didn’t know you had the ability to.”

The greatest benefit of the poetry slams held by Campion is they allow you to meet many different people while attending, Hensien said.

“You meet a lot of new people that aren’t really that out there when it comes to South,” Hensien said. “So, it’s a great way to meet new people, it’s a great way to meet Mr. Campion, who’s also an awesome teacher. It’s just a lot of fun and you get to try new things with writing.”

Everyone is encouraged to come to the next and final Poetry Slam of the year in April.