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The Poetry Slam Was a Slam Dunk

From+left+to+right%3A+Khy+Tillman%2C+Sky+Malasia%2C+Elle+Ibrahim%2C+Emily+Paulino%2C+Tabby+Sales%2C+Justyce+Fitzgerald
From left to right: Khy Tillman, Sky Malasia, Elle Ibrahim, Emily Paulino, Tabby Sales, Justyce Fitzgerald

From left to right: Khy Tillman, Sky Malasia, Elle Ibrahim, Emily Paulino, Tabby Sales, Justyce Fitzgerald

From left to right: Khy Tillman, Sky Malasia, Elle Ibrahim, Emily Paulino, Tabby Sales, Justyce Fitzgerald

Miguel Castillo, Staff Writer

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Stamford High held its annual Poetry Slam on the 27th of April, hosting students from all across the district. The Poetry Slam consists of contestants getting on stage and reciting one of many poems to the crowd, and other poets waiting for their turn. The poets were only allowed three minutes per performance, and were scored based on their skills by English teachers Ryan Hough and Kristen Veenema, along with guest judge and professional poet, Mahogany Brown. Brown recited two special poems of her own, which received high praise from the crowd and poets alike.

After the first round of contestants performed, all 18 of whom were well-received by students and judges, there were six finalists. Surprisingly, two contestants tied for fifth place, so the judges allowed a sixth finalist. In the end, junior Ellie Ibrahim was chosen as best poet of the night, after two astounding poems that differed dramatically in tone. Sophomore Khy Tillman took second place overall.

During their performances, many of the poets spoke about issues from their past and present. From depression to heartbreak, all the poets gave heartfelt recitals. Susanna Cuartas, a Stamford High School graduate now studying psychology at Sacred Heart, recited a poem about the power of secrets growing up, stating: “Since twelve, I’ve known how bitter secrets can be.” The same poet also talked about going along with life’s troubles and not letting it bog you down, saying: “Just take what you get and roll with it.” Her poem was well delivered, and received many snaps from the crowd.

Another poet, Derek Charles from AITE, stepped onto the stage with a booming voice and an overall great performance with his speech about black America and social media. He scrutinized fellow social media users, stating how “you want it all when you don’t even have self-respect,” a line that received a round of snaps (in the world of poetry, snaps substitute for claps). Many appeared surprised when Derek did not make it to the final round, but in the end everyone enjoyed themselves.

The poetry slam was also host to SHS student Sky Malasia, who placed third overall after performing two great poems. Her first poem talked about her struggle with self-love, as “my natural skin can’t compare to her highlights” and “I’m chastised for being too black.” In her second poem she spoke about scars she is no longer afraid to bare, stating “what’s not pretty to you is pretty to me,” with which her audience resonated.

By the end of the Poetry Slam, everyone had a blast either reciting, listening, or both. The event had a vibe of a friendly get-together more than the vibe of a real competition. All contestants were humble, and it helped create a better sense of community at the event. The poetry slam was a wonderful event, and I hope it continues for years to come.

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The Poetry Slam Was a Slam Dunk