Slam Takes Center Stage
Student/Poets prove impressive in performances
Story and photos by Ken DeLaat
Settle down with the one who sees how far you’ve come
The one who makes his own instrumental in your heart and makes it beat like a drum
Settle down with the one who will water the garden of flowers planted inside of you
The one who treats you with kindness when your days appear blue
Settle down with the one who lets you soar in the sky not knowing where you’re going
The one who chooses to keep that unconditional love flowing
Real love will come when it is least expected- Taylor Pasch
When I first heard about the project known as Spotlight Poetry I was admittedly intrigued.
A county wide search for talent within our schools to come up with a quintet of finalists who would ultimately perform their work in front of a live audience at the Grant Fine Arts Center.
An ambitious initiative? Absolutely.
But armed with a cadre of instructors from our 5 area high schools who served as Poetry Champions and worked with the student/poets, the process unfolded with practice presentations that gave participants confidence not only in the works they had produced, but also in the art of communicating their words to an audience.
I attended a ‘slam session’ at Flying Bear Books where I came away impressed by the aspiring versifiers who got up in front of their peers to share their art and receive feedback to help them prepare for the competition.
Then came the night of the Slam. An electrifying evening where 5 young people selected as the finalists, one from each school, brought their best to the readings. The performances that would decide who would emerge as the winner in this creative competition.
One by one the finalists took to the stage with a backdrop of images on the screen above them. They expressed not only the words they had written but the accompanying emotions associated with those words.
Their works were powerful, potent, persuasive and poignant and they performed them to perfection.
In the end it was Taylor Pasch who walked away with the win with a stirring delivery of her work entitled ‘Love”. Ms. Pasch also went home with the $1000 top prize. The other four finalists received $100,
In an interview after the event she expressed her appreciation for the help she received from her instructor Sara Gorman as well as giving a shout out to “Uncle Rich” (Wheater) who she said helped inspire her love of performing when she was involved in the Newaygo County PRIDE program.
Stephanie Dood who was instrumental in securing the grant for the project: “The poetry slam is the beginning step toward encouraging youth poets to add rhythm to their lyrics and power to their experiences. Without a student's voice, the community can’t grasp where it’s headed. It is possible for adults to meet youth at their barriers and successes to pave a supportive path toward an impactful future.”
Sara Gorman, White Cloud ‘Poetry Champion’: “I’m thrilled to see programs that support the arts, becoming available to our rural community schools. This initiative provided a wonderful opportunity for our students to explore their creative writing and speaking skills, along with a couple of nice little incentives at the end, including cash prizes, coaching opportunities, and print recognition as well! I’m looking forward to seeing how this program continues to grow and am hopeful for a bright future, supporting our developing creative writers and poets!
Donna Grodus who served as Project Coordinator: “I was extremely proud of the five poets! As I watched the audience, I noticed smiles, tears, and pride as each poet performed. These poets stepped on stage and commanded the audience's attention with words and themes that were so powerful! I walked away with a better understanding of their struggles and triumphs in this challenging world. It was an amazing evening, and I look forward to next year when more poets can harness their creativity and step on that stage!
“I am grateful for the support from the Fremont Area Community Foundation, The Grant Fine Arts Center, Flying Bear Books, and the five Newaygo County High Schools for the support they have given all the poets!”
From our perspective each of the contestants are to be applauded for not only reaching the finals of what we hope is an annual competition, but also for showing the courage to share their words, their creative expressions, in a setting that hopes to inspire others toward taking the risk of putting their artistry on display
Here are links to the works of our five finalists,
Taylor Pasch-White Cloud-Winner
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