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Students speak out at Forsyth County’s first Poetry Slam

Alyssa Freyman, Associate Editor

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Zoe Maisel (left), Jada White (center), and Ginny Flory (right) pose for a photograph after performing their poems at the Music Authority's first ever poetry slam. After preparing for months, they were able to amaze the audience with their powerful words. Jada White earned second place in the competition.

A large crowd of people gather in a small room, some stand against the room’s white brick walls, while others are seated around the stage. The National English Honor Society Poetry Slam was the first of its kind in Forsyth County and attracted dozens of students and parents.

I really like poetry. I’ve always loved poetry. I’ve always written all of my poems, but I’ve never performed them. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to dip my toe into the water. ”

— Ginny Flory

On Thursday, March 22, three South students faced off against other students from high schools across Forsyth County in a poetry slam. The poetry slam was hosted by the Music Authority in the evening. Each of the thirteen students had to prepare three poems for the show. South students, Zoe Maisel, Ginny Flory, and Jada White, were chosen by South’s chapter of NEHS to participate.

There’s a lot of stuff I’m passionate about and never get to say, so with poems I can finally say it and get the word out.”

— Jada White

The evening began as host Marvin Lee, a comedian and tv star in The Walking Dead, cracked jokes and welcomed those in attendance to the show. He presented the panel of judges, which consisted of English professors, writers, and English lovers alike. One of the judges presented the audience with a poem as an example for the contestants.

“I really like poetry. I’ve always loved poetry. I’ve always written all of my poems, but I’ve never performed them. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to dip my toe into the water,” said junior Ginny Flory. “I wrote whole new pieces for the show instead of reusing, so I took an idea that had been in my mind like something that had happened and I wrote around it. My idea was being more optimistic and getting a more optimistic view on life. I took that idea and started writing stanzas on that. I heard about this in January […] so I started on it then and I’ve just been doing little detail and minor things ever since. I’ve always been kind of a pessimist until recently, so what I’ve started doing is forcing myself to have a brighter outlook on life, so I wanted to write a poem on that.”

Each of the students presented their first poem, which all varied in length. The poems covered all kinds of issues that plague students in the cut-throat nature of our society, including body image, eating disorders, race, anxiety, and standing up for what one believes in.

“I wanted to write something that I was passionate about, and I got inspiration from the things around me,” said senior Zoe Maisel.

Zoe Maisel and Jada White matriculated to the lightning round, where they had to read their second poem. This poem had to be a minute and a half long so that the event would not last all evening. Zoe recited her poem, which was about love, and Jada talked about the difficulties of being a teenager. Afterwards, the top three performing poets were chosen by the judges. Samantha (Sam) McGinn from Lambert High School won first place, Jada White from South Forsyth High School won second place, and Claire Camak, Lili Galarza, and Taylor Harville from West Forsyth High School won third.

The Poetry Slam was a way for students to demonstrate their passion in an unconventional way, in order to leave their comfort zone.

I wanted to write something that I was passionate about, and I got inspiration from the things around me.”

— Zoe Maisel

“We had a poetry slam as a unit, and I did one (poem), and she (Ms. Blot) liked my poem,” junior Jada White said. “She told me ‘you need to do this poetry slam’. I never did it before, so I didn’t know what to expect. My teacher really inspired me. Breathing was I how I prepared. Just deep breaths. And practicing in the mirror helped me. I’m at a time where I’m trying to find myself in a lot of things. I’m more so an athlete. I’m a really creative person, but I don’t show a lot of people my creative details. I always did sports and was into more academics. This year I didn’t get on the track team and any of my sports I did after school. It completely upset me. I was just like ‘that’s who I am’. I had to figure out and go back. I started writing poetry. I was reading more books, and it was just a lot of stuff that I knew that I wanted to make a change. I said, ‘I should do poems.’ […] There’s a lot of stuff I’m passionate about and never get to say, so with poems I can finally say it and get the word out.”

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Students speak out at Forsyth County’s first Poetry Slam