Slam Poetry nationwide is something that too often takes a backseat to sports and music, but our own slam team is sending one of its members to National Competition. Slam poetry brings the creativity of art, performance of theater, and competition of athletics and coalesces them into a display of emotion and passion hammered by spoken word.
I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. LeLand, the Slam team’s coach and head of the club that has kept it running in the school for the past couple years. He told me about how the club lies in the shadows most times, with some people going through all four years of their high school career without ever even hearing of the club. As a past audience member who has gone in support of my brother during a few performances on stage, I can assure anyone with an interest in poetry should strongly consider looking into joining the team or simply showing up to see what the performance is all about.
“If you haven’t liked poetry before, it just means you haven’t seen the good stuff yet.”
This is a sentiment held by LeLand on those who are tentative about delving into the world of spoken word. Slam poetry is something personal, confessional poetry as he called it. It is comparable to a Shakespearean monologue fixed into a more relevant and understandable setting, something that can be connected to, and felt deeply. It can be as serious, as personal, or as abstract as a performer chooses. This is where the beauty is found, on the blank sheet and open mic, where someone is able to disclose something embedded in their marrow to an audience.
The work starts with an idea, the seed of a poem that must be developed into a three minute display in order to reach the stage. The limit on one poem’s time is three minutes, which means if an especially masterful piece can not meet the requirement, it may never see the stage. Letting go of the piece and being able to edit is something any artist finds difficulty in. As an artist myself, I can say that being limited or forced by something out of my control to limit my vision of a piece is something that is a difficult process to go through. This is the nature of art and performance, so it goes.
As for the current team, Mr. LeLand could not be more proud. Not only of the stunning displays, but of the comradery, the light and support the team brought into each other’s day. For achievement, the team was able to advance to semifinals where the team met its end of a convincing run. Hope was not lost, as Chinma Okananwa, sophomore of Peabody High was invited to an individual's competition, where she landed top five in Massachusetts, and set her sights for a national competition.
This is the first year the individual performance will be held, and Chinma will be the first to represent Peabody there. We all wish her the best of luck in her future, as she represents Peabody in a refreshingly promising light.
Anyone with a love for poetry should consider talking to Mr. LeLand about joining, it is obvious he has a love for the club and anyone can look into joining the team, support and members are always welcome, and an open door policy calls for anyone to come by and see what they have to offer. Congratulations performers, and good luck to all of you in the future.
-Mr. Leland can be found in 3rd Floor C-house by the Guidance Offices