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Community to compete in slam poetry battle

Nicole McAlee | Thursday, April 18, 2013

Notre Dame students are celebrating National Poetry Month with the Wham, Bam, Poetry Slam! event tomorrow night at the Snite Museum of Art. The event is hosted by the Snite in conjunction with the Creative Writing Program, the Department of English, First Year Studies and the Department of Africana Studies.
The poetry slam will take place tonight in the atrium of the Snite, with a reception at 5 p.m. and the slam from 6 to 7 p.m.

Coleen Hoover, program coordinator for the Creative Writing Program, said the poetry slam is the first that has ever been performed on campus.
“I don’t know why [a poetry slam] has never been done [here], I just know that it’s exciting,” Hoover said.

Hoover said each participant has three minutes to perform his or her poem, which is judged by five selected members of the audience. The first place winner will receive $100, the second place winner will receive $50 and the third place winner will receive a signed copy of poet Marty McConnell’s book “Wine for a Shotgun.”

Hoover said the slam has drawn 16 participants representing undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty and staff from Notre Dame, as well as students from Saint Mary’s and members of the local community.

Sophomore Marc Drake, who will be the undergraduate student emcee at the slam, said he is looking forward to the open atmosphere of the slam.

“I’m very eager to see people express themselves in such a personal way. The subject matter of people’s poems often deals with pretty weighty topics that people aren’t prone to discuss on a daily basis, especially here,” Drake said. “I think it’ll be a great way for people to open up to their peers in an a very open environment.”

Freshman Kelsey Collett, who is performing in the poetry slam, said despite her “mild stage fright,” she is looking forward to getting feedback from the audience.
“One of the biggest challenges for me is just getting up and really confronting an audience with a poem that you feel really strongly about,” Collett said. “The biggest reward is when you get a good reaction or when someone comes up to you and says they really connected with what you wrote.”

Peter Twal, who will serve as the graduate student emcee, is pursing his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University. He said he is most excited by the idea of the first poetry slam “starting something” on campus.

“I know a lot of the undergraduates are interested in this sort of thing, and I think that’s incredible,” Twal said. “I hope this ends up being something that happens every year. It’s just one more way to promote the arts here at ND.

“And who knows? Maybe seeing students work up the courage to get on stage and do this sort of thing will inspire others to compete next year.”

 Sophomore Beth Spesia is a founding member of Spoken Word ND, which is  under consideration by the Student Activities Office for recognition during the 2013-2014 academic year. Spesia, who will be participating in the slam, said people respond to slam poetry because it is “a reflection of the human experience.”
“Slam poetry is just an entertaining way for people to get together and share their stories,” Spesia said, “Scoring poems and making it a competition keeps the slam interesting.  But one of the main mottos of slam is ‘the points are not the point, the point is the poetry.’”  

Contact Nicole McAlee at nmcalee@nd.edu