Poetry Slam students prepare for competition


Flyer for Lyrical Lounge. Photo by Hannah Tooley

The atmosphere was tense last Friday, Mar. 1, as Poetry Slam students had their last chance to practice the three poems that would ultimately decide who would go to two city wide competitions, Lyrical Lounge and a UCCS slam in April. Students could be found in every pocket of the media center muttering words to themselves and gesturing grandly to the bookshelves. No wonder everyone outside of Manitou thinks we’re witches.

However, as soon as those students stepped onto stage, their muttered words came to life, and it was difficult to tell which slammers would make the cut due to the constant sounds of snapping (a poet’s ways of cheering) being generated around the room. Tim Hilt, the sponsor of Poetry Slam, said that the top five was pretty clear cut.

“I’m really proud of this entire group. It was a pretty rough week… for a number of reasons and they still worked really hard to get it done. I was really impressed by that,” said Hilt.

Flyer for Lyrical Lounge. Photo by Hannah Tooley
Flyer for Lyrical Lounge. Photo by Hannah Tooley

The five slammers chosen were senior Emma Brachtenbach, and sophomores Abbi Chapman, Naomi Bauer, Phoenix Davis, and Isabel Dufford. Both Emma’s poem, “Astrology” and Abbi’s poem “Misguided” received perfect scores from the judges.

Virginia Swinney, the District Librarian for Manitou Springs School District, was one of the judges and described how important the performance of the poem was in deciding the scores.

“I mean, I hate to say it, but sometimes it’s all about that presentation,” said Swinney. “You have to know how to write, you have to know how to present, and a lot of people do not know how to do both.”

Which shows just how different slam poetry is from regular poetry, since so much of their score relies on what gestures they use to emphasize different lines. In competition, many of the judges don’t have a background in writing or English, so they depend on the visual to understand what the poem is about, or who the person is. So the poetry slam team will be working diligently for the next few weeks.

“Mostly, [we’re] just going to be perfecting and deciding the lineup of their three poems, getting comfortable with a mic, things like that,” said Hilt.

It’s obvious that these students have worked hard to get to this point. They write and practice their poems every friday and wednesday after school; sometimes there are about twenty people who show up.

“I just hope other students in the school will maybe recognize [their work] and come out and support them like they would support a sports team,” said Swinney.

Still, the Poetry Slam team is looking forward to the competitions in April

“I expect them to be really fun, i hope they are, if they’re not, it won’t be worth it,” said sophomore Isabel Dufford. “I think Manitou can represent itself really well… we’ll kick some butt.”

By Hannah Tooley