The points aren’t the point

by audreyhertel

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Senior Gwendolyn Johnson shares her poem on March 21. The Marian Slam Poetry team placed third in both bouts on March 20 and 21. Photo by Courtney Kilroy

“The points aren’t the point.” This is the signature slogan for Louder Than a Bomb (LTAB), a slam poetry festival that allows competition between young poets. Marian has 10 members on the Slam Poetry Team that compete in tournament-bouts every year in the spring. Marian’s most recent bouts were on March 20 and March 21. The team placed third at both bouts. Each team places based upon the number of points they have after being scored by judges in the audience.

The scoring ranges from zero to 10, zero being the lowest, and 10 being the highest; however, the points are not the point. The main purpose of the festival is to provide a platform for young poets to share their art in front of others. English teacher Ms. Adie Magistro, slam moderator, describes the pieces written not only by the Marian students, but other schools as well. “When you hear a line and it just hits you physically, that happened to me with almost every single piece I heard that night.”

Some poems make such a great impact that others, including Magistro feel the emotion, “Yes, I was tearing up, but I was not the only person in the audience because these pieces are raw and real and honest and go to places that are very deep for a teenager, let alone anybody.”

Sharing poetry is the main purpose of slam. Senior slam member Gwendolyn Johnson describes sharing these poems, “It’s like you’re baring your soul to complete strangers.” Sometimes this can be scary, but Johnson would rather share her poetry in front of strangers than her close friends. “A lot of times you’ll make small allusions to parts of your life and a stranger might get it sort of, but your friends will be like, ‘Oh I didn’t know you felt that way.’”

Writing and sharing these poems is a way to let creativity out, and Marian’s Slam Poetry Team welcomes new members who want to do so. Freshman Anna Methe describes her first year in slam, “There was a community of girls that were really inclusive. They would encourage me and make me do better. It actually improved my self-esteem a lot.”

For those who are too nervous to join slam, have no fear. Methe talks about preparation and how it helps combat fear. “There’s about nine months to prepare for the bouts, so the time that they come around, you’re already ready.”

The Slam Poetry Team meets every Tuesday after school in Student Services. This gives the team members the opportunity to share their poems and get feedback from the other poets and coaches. Practices can also be a bonding experience for many of the members. Johnson describes the relationships, “You learn so many deep, wonderful things about the people in your group, they become a family to you because they experience the things you write about with you. Whether it’s the loss of a parent, a break up or friends ditching you, they help you talk through it and work with it.”

Anyone looking to join slam next year can sign up at the slam poetry table during Marian’s club fair in the fall. If that is option is unavailable, slam president Lily Watkins says, “Pop in on a meeting and just sit down at the table in the [Student Services] conference room. We’ll welcome you no matter what time of year it is; we love new members!”

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