Haven students shine at first poetry slam
Adrianna Gomez reads her poem as Haven Middle School 8th graders culminate their study of poetry with a poetry slam at SPACE in Glencoe on Tuesday, January 15, 2013. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 25, 2013 6:19AM
Excitement, Contagion, a Riot Act of Inspiration!
If you were lucky enough to be in the audience, the first Haven Poetry Slam Tuesday was a knockdown, surround-sound, show of amazing teen talent in E-Town.
Okay, we obviously have a long way to catch up to the poetry talents of Haven students who let words fly at the first school Poetry Slam held Jan. 15 at SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave.
Student poets tacked subjects as diverse as friendships, absent parents, the a family member’s fight against cancer and the importance of living in the moment, in a heartfelt, more than three hour poetry session.
Haven Language Arts teachers staged the event as a culminating activity to their poetry workshops with the Young Chicago Authors program, said Rebecca Condon, an eighth Grade Language Arts teacher at the school.
Of some 230 eighth-graders at Haven, 60 students showed nerve, stepping up on stage to read compositions in front of peers, cheering them along.
The student authors were still trepidly taking hold of the sound mike almost an hour past when the event was scheduled to end.
“It was contagious,’’ said Condon. I think we we’re overwhelmed. I don’t think any of us anticipated it to be as large as it was, or as well received as it was.”
Student Natalya Harp, in her poem, “Tissue,” examined the hurt of piercing words.
“You can say the words behind my back
Online or when you think no one is listening
But, if I were to stare into the eyes filled with hatred
You would slowly sink into the floor and try to disappear.”
Matthew Anderson, in near Haiku fashion, scored a double off the wall in an ode on Wrigley Field.
“Its light shines off the fresh dirt
Like a Mirror
Each one Exactly Alike
Condon said the event’s origins date back to last year when she shared a documentary on the slam poetry movement, “Louder than a Bomb,’’ with one of her classes.
Unknown to her, a drama teacher at the school was also showing the documentary to his class.
Condon said she and other language arts teachers returned to the documentary this year, as they began their poetry unit before the winter break.
Acting as guest instructors were teachers from the Young Chicago Authors program, including Kevin Coval, founder of the group.
Coval, whose own recital of a poem elicited one of the strongest cheers at SPACE, and three other teachers from the program, spread the contagiousness.
“I think we saw kids who didn’t feel they could express themselves through poetry really were able to find words and words they didn’t know they had,” Condon said.
“I think having teaching artists and having people with such passion for poetry and the spoken word, and coming from such different backgrounds, it just showed the kids they all had something worth saying.