Poetry as performance art

Posted 4/1/11

It was a day for poetry as performance art. Cresthill Middle School student poets celebrated their newly remodeled Library Media Center March 30 with …

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Poetry as performance art


It was a day for poetry as performance art.

Cresthill Middle School student poets celebrated their newly remodeled Library Media Center March 30 with a Poetry Slam competition in four performances, featuring 17 finalists from broad based classroom competition. Participants were judged on volume, speed, clarity, body language and emotional impact— as listed in a backstage reminder memo.

Students filled the library, brightly lit by a wall of windows. Some shouted approval as their favorites competed.

Reghan Avery, who won 4th Place and a Tattered Cover gift card, began the 9:35 a.m. performance with her “Don’t Worry Mom. There is a future.”

Horizon team teacher Jason Moore, who organized the event, said his students all heard spoken poetry in a five-week study unit.

“It brings them to life,” he said.

“We began by viewing videos on National Slam Poet Finalists on You Tube, as well looking at some performances on the White House web site from a recent poetry performance. After that, we studied classics from poets such as Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes and Robert Frost. All of the students in my class chose a classic or contemporary work to recite to the class (many wrote originals).”

In addition, each organized a collection of 10 poems on a theme of their choice; baseball, beach, night time, etc.

Two other teachers, Ms. Jaworski and Ms. Hughes did the same. Each of the three chose 15 semifinalists to compete for six slots in the March 29 Slam. Judges at the noon and 1:40 p.m. performances were Principal Sid Rundle, Librarian Holly Wagner, ESL teacher Scottie Baer and childrens’ author Justin Matott.

In addition to Avery, awards went to Deja Augmon, first place and Tattered Cover gift card for “Beauty,” which addresses the pressure on women of all ages to achieve certain false standards of beauty.

“He made us to perfection. Treat yourself as the queen you really are…”

Her older sister is involved in the poetry slam scene in Los Angeles, according to Moore.

Katie Sakys won second place and a gift card for her especially dramatic performance of “Hated” and Kelly Gold, third place and a gift card for “Bullies,” written from a personal experience about two years ago, he said.

All the winners’ poems were original.

Other finalists were Dana Ruby, Albert Dayn; Ana Melkonian; Ben Presnall; Anna Ring; Julia Sandoval; Zach Yates; Olivia Young; Hanna Williamson and Sophia Moncayo.

Kate Lemons, Taylor Fishman, Heidi Hammond and Kenzi Garner performed as a group, as did Krish Dholakiya, Hillary Vazquez and Daniel Lopez.

All of the finalists received framed copies of their original poems, Mr. Rundle will frame another set to display in the halls. And, Moore is compiling student submissions of original poems for a book of poetry that will be made available for students.

“I would like to put the challenge out to other middle schools in Douglas County for next year’s Slam, as Cresthill would love to host poets from Rocky Heights, Ranch View and Mountain Ridge in a town-wide competition,” Moore said.

Parents have been really supportive of this project, he continued, bringing in refreshments and donating money for prizes.


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