A famous quote by William Hazlitt states, “Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself.” A crowd found out just about the language of poetry as they gathered on Tuesday, Oct. 23, in Cody Commons for the fourth annual Poetry Slam.
The Poetry Slam was put on by the University Activities Board, the English department and the Diversity Affairs in the Center for Student Involvement. The emcee for the night was Carlos Robson, a two-time poetry slam champion from Charlotte, N.C.
“I’m a storyteller. I’ve been on a poetry slam competition team called Slam Charlotte for a number of years,” Robson said. After performing a few of his poems for the crowd, Robson explained how a poetry slam works. “In most poetry slams you have three minutes to say your poem,” Robson said.
Robson spoke fast to keep within the time window. Robson warmed up the crowd by reciting a few of his own poems. In his poem “Sam,” Robson spoke of Sam, an old man who took care of him before his Grandma got off of work. Robson said how Sam had been a huge influence on his life and taught him about black power and prominent leaders such as Malcolm X.
Upon performing his poems, Robson introduced the five performers: seniors Darren Carter, Jamison Green and Vernon King Jr., sophomore Matt Spurlock and Virtual College student Anna Martin, who performed via Skype. Robson then introduced judges sophomore Kaci Ferguson, graduate student Darryl Glenn, Director of McMindes Hall Vinay Patel, English Professor Zach Kastens and Director of Agnew Hall Kaitlin Korbitz.
“I judged on appearance, voice tone and the length of the poem,” Glenn said. Green was the first to recite his poem about apologizing to his lover. King brought the crowd to its feet by talking about what it meant for him to be black. After each of the participants performed their poem, Robson performed another one of his poems titled, “Mountain Top,” about the Trayvon Martin case.
“They are going to put cameras in front of your face,” Robson said. In the poem, Robson spoke as Trayvon talking to his mother. “You will have to say how you feel. You will have to speak for murdered children everywhere,” Robson said.
After a short break with a performance from the emcee, the poets faced off in a second round. Carter talked about the relationship and struggles with his girlfriend. In his second poem, Green spoke of the difficulties of being black.
In the end, one performer would come out the winner of the Poetry Slam. King Jr. won third place, earning a prize of the entire series of “Def Poetry Jam”, a leather journal and a fountain pen, while Sperlock took second place and won a Kindle Fire HD. The winner was Green, who won an iPad 2.
Overall, judges and audience members alike thought the event was a success.
“I thought the event went great,” Glenn said. “I can’t wait for the next one.”
“I liked the poems,” freshman Jordan Greeley said. “They were very moving.”
At the end of the night, Green recapped his win. “I have won this three times already… The first poem I knew for some time. The second one I finished with it last night and memorized it for two or three hours,” Green said.
For those who think they may have a talent for poetry, now is not too soon to begin preparing for next year’s Poetry Slam.