Student makes sacrifice at SAO slam poetry event

Volunteer judge Ella Van Siegman tallies up a score at the Poetry Slam on Oct. 24. – Mikhail Ronnander / Sun Star

By Mikhail Ronnader

Sun Star

“Hello, thank you all for coming out for the Poetry Slam! Tonights sacrifice will be read by our organizer Dani,” Raif Johnson-Kennedy, the host for the night, greeted the audience of Student Activities Office’s (SAO) Oct. 23 Poetry Slam Competition in Arctic Java.

The slam is three rounds of poets competing against each other for points from the student volunteer judges; Lauren Booker, Ella VanSiegman and Shania Fifarek. Before the poets begin their readings a “sacrifice” is given, or in other words the first poem of the night is read.

The competitors at the slam were all students or workers at UAF; Ian Hendren, Taylor Morgan, Raif Johnson-Kennedy, and Ryan Andrews. Round 1 begins with a poet drawing out of a hat, the fi rst up being Hendren. After Hendren, the judges held up their scores(1-10). Next comes Johnson-Kennedy, then Morgan, then Andrews each reading a poem they’ve written about their life experiences.

Johnson-Kennedy returned to the stage between poets to draw names from the hat and to banter. After all four poets read, Johnson-Kennedy invited poets to come share on the mic while the judges prepared for round two.

Judges Shania Fifarek (left) and Lauren Booker (right) listen to Ian Hendren’s first poem during the Poetry Slam on Oct. 24. – Mikhail Ronnander / Sun Star

There were no takers.

Rounds two and three progressed very similarly with the judges each tallying their score at the end of every reading. No audience members choose to read a poem between rounds. At the end of round three Johnson-Kennedy returned to the mic to talk to the crowd as Event Organizer Dani Atkins added up the final scores for each contestant.

In first place was Hendren with a total score of 77.5, Taylor finished second with 77, Johnson-Kennedy had a total of 69.5, and in last was Andrews with a score of 66.5. The participants and judges all got Traditions Tuesday hoodies from SAO as well as candy bars.

With only about 40 people in attendance, Atkins says the event was not as big this week as she had hoped it would be, but she was aware they were competing with a LIVE event as well as a UAF Volleyball game.

Andrews, who took last, says his inspirations are authors such as Robert Frost and Taylor Mali. Johnson-Kennedy said, “I knew Ryan was the real deal when I brought him up in a tree writing and reading a book of Robert Frost.”

After the event judge Ella VanSiegman said, “I was so nervous to judge, I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but it was fun.”



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