First poetry slam of the year encourages self expression

Alisha Drumm/Sun Star Reporter
February 5, 2013

Raif Kennedy spoke from the heart in his poems at the Poetry Slam on January 29, 2013. Adam Taylor/Sun Star

Raif Kennedy spoke from the heart in his poems at the Poetry Slam on January 29, 2013. Adam Taylor/Sun Star

The Student Activities Office hosted the first poetry slam of 2013 where local poets shared their poetry in a supportive environment. The poetry slam on Jan. 29 began at 7:30 p.m. in the Wood Center multilevel lounge. Anyone was welcome to join in the poetry slam regardless of poetic style or experience.

The poetry slams started on campus in 2006, and now occur the last Tuesday of every month. The poetry slam encourages individuals to write poetry and engage in self expression.

By the time the poetry slam was about to start there was a modest but enthusiastic crowd of about twenty people in the multilevel lounge waiting to hear the original poetry of the slam contestants.

There were four poets participating in the slam: Jyotishka Misra an Engineering grad student, Raif Johnson-Kennedy, a UAF employee, Matt Sena, a Psychology grad student in the Clinical-Community Psych program and Ashley Crowe a Biology major.

There are three rounds in the poetry slam, each poet reading one original poem per round. There  were four judges, each with a white board in hand. After each poem was read the judges scored the poem on a zero to ten scale.

The slam began with a ‘sacrifice poem’ a poem to get the slam rolling that was not judged.

Slam host and Academic Adviser Donald Crocker opened up the slam with his sacrifice poem about relationships and the “paper cut to hearts” they can leave.

After Crocker’s ‘sacrificial poem’ the slam contestants were ready to read their first poems of the night.

Misra opened up the slam with a poem that expressed the reason why he writes, to “show what needs showing” and “issues brought up with no fear.”

Johnson-Kennedy, was the second contestant of the night who read an original poem that expressed some of the issues in society, and expressed that it is “our choice, our voice.”

Sena kept the poetry going with his light hearted introductory poem where he gave a shout out to everyone and celebrated individual and cultural differences in the world.

Crowe a first time poetry slam contestant was the last participant in the first round of the poetry slam. Crowe read an original poem that was a witty and humorous anthem for herself.

As the poetry slam continued, passersby in the Wood Center joined the crowd and stayed to watch the poetry slam.

Jyotishka, Raif, Matt and Ashley kept the energy of the poetry slam going as they read original poems that covered a wide range of themes such as blame, historical trauma, distressed spirits, perspective, academic bullying, and angels and demons.

At the end of the third round of the poetry slam the judges scores were calculated and Sena was the slam winner.

As a part of the winning prize  Sena  read one more poem to close the poetry slam.  Sena’s poem was about the complex relationship between father and son.

“This was a very liberating experience. It is an incredible way to let go of things you may be holding inside,”  Sena said.

After the first poetry of the slam was over, both audience members and slam contestants had positive comments about the first poetry slam.

“It was a small group of people, but I enjoyed it. I would definitely go again” said freshmen Mechanical Engineering student Sage Trixier.

“I thought it went very well. It is a great venue too because people walking around will see what is happening and tend to stick around,” Johnson-Kennedy said.

Students, employees and Fairbanks locals are encouraged to participate in the poetry slam for a liberating and therapeutic experience.

“Get up there and try it out, you just have to do it for yourself and not care what the audience thinks. UAF is a really supportive environment,” Sena said.

“Doing it once is the only way to start doing it, it will get easier each time. You just have to believe in what you are saying,” Johnson-Kennedy said.

Poetry fans, writers, or those who simply want to express themselves are encouraged to join SAO and poetry slam contestants in the Wood Center multilevel lounge, the last Tuesday of every month at 7:30 for an evening of poetic self expression.

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