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Spoken Word ND Poetry Slam

| Thursday, December 4, 2014

spoken-word-WEBKeri O'Mara | The Observer
Spoken Word ND hosted their annual Poetry Slam event Wednesday night in the Washington Hall Lab Theatre.

The night opened with the emcee explaining the history and rules of the poetry slam. Poetry slams originated in the 1980s in Chicago, working to engage the audience in the performance of poetry.

There were five judges chosen from the audience, who were asked to rank each of the 11 contestants from one to 10. Their scores were announced to the audience (and the audience was encouraged to cheer in support of scores they liked — or respond with “Listen to the poem!” to scores they didn’t). The high and low scores were dropped and then the other three were averaged for a final score out of 30. At the end, the top three scorers were announced as winners of the poetry slam.

Each poet would get three minutes to perform his or her poem. Audience members were encouraged to react audibly to encourage the poet to continue to go for it, especially when the audience liked what was being said. The first 10 seconds after three minutes would be allowed with no penalty, but every 10 seconds after that would cost them half a point off their final score.

The night started with the “sacrificial poet.” Her role was to help calibrate the judge’s scoring to prevent any contestants from being punished by a judge who was too harsh. Wednesday’s sacrificial poet was Spoken Word ND’s president Beth Spesia, who read a poem titled “That Activism Poem” and received a final score of 24.2. From there, the competition began.

The star of the first half of the poetry slam was Stephanie Konrady, who read a poem named “Peter Pan Syndrome.” In it, she told the audience, “I’m saying no” to adulthood. She said “I won’t reach for security at the expense of creativity” and ended her poem with the idea of faith. She received an 8.8, 8.8, 8.7, 8.2 and 8.3 for her efforts, for a final score of 25.8.

After Konrady, the poetry slam featured a “guest speaker” of sorts in the form of P.E.A.T.E. (Poetically Educating All Thru Expression), a local Spoken Word artist. She apologized for not being prepared and then performed an entirely memorized piece “My Knees.” Her performance stood out for her ability to combine both the theatrics of poetry slam with the deeper meaning many of the other poems were striving for. It partially helped that she was the first memorized poem of the night.

The last three poets of the night stole the show. It started with Kelsey Collett, who performed “My Passive Aggression isn’t so passive.” It was one of the shorter poems of the night, but definitely powerful. She said she didn’t know if she could be a hero but “I think I could be a contender” and told the audience, “You can get in my corner or you can get in the ring.” It was a strong poem and she ended up with an 8.0, 8.5, 86, 8.8 and 8.6. Her final score was a 25.7.

Following Collett was Zeda Biosa. Her piece was about “the night I became yours forever.” It was a powerful storyline, told in time fragments from 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and so on. She was given an 8.5, 8.8, 8.9, 8.4 and 7.9 for a final score of 25.7, tying with Collett for second place behind Konrady.

The final performer ended up taking the night with a score of 25.9. Garrett Blad took the stage and told us that he wanted to write a love poem but “my mind is full of numbers.” He took us through the story of the glacier lily and the broad-tailed hummingbird. He lamented that the glacier lily and the broad-tailed hummingbird were just years away from never meeting again because of natural migration cycles. He told the audience, “We can read the history of the natural world in braille” and that the “best way to destroy a library is to forget how to read.” He warned there was no turning back from modernity. He won the night with a 9.6, 8.6, 8.4, 8.9 and 7.9.

All in all, the poetry slam was an incredible night of talent from Notre Dame students. It showcased the extraordinary creative talents of students.

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About Caelin Miltko

I am a senior English and Irish language major, with a minor in Journalism. I spent the last year abroad in Dublin, Ireland and am currently a Walsh RA living in Pangborn.

Contact Caelin