On Tuesday night, DSU students were invited to witness and participate in the school’s first poetry slam event. The event, organized by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Diversity Services Center, the English Club and DSU live consisted of 9 competitors, and professional slam poet Tsion the Wordsmith.
The show began at 7:45, when people willing to compete began signing up, as the crowd was entertained by an acoustic guitar performance by Billy Hofer. Billy played for fifteen minutes, during which time nine people signed up to compete and the five audience member judges were selected.
After Billy’s performance, the charming and debonair MC, i.e. me, took the stage. I performed a poem and introduced the audience to their behavior expectations. A poetry slam, unlike a poetry reading, relies heavily on audience participation; therefore, I had to instruct the crowd that they were expected to make a lot of noise, as well as the expectation that they were supposed to boo and cheer whenever they felt a performer or judge was doing poorly or doing very well.
Following the introduction, Tsion the Wordsmith performed several of his poems, taking on the role of, “sacrificial lamb” for the competitors to show them, and the judges, what to look for when they are on stage.
After Tsion’s performance, the DSU students began to compete. At the start of the show, there were only eight competitors signed up, so the show was split in two, with four students: Laci Barton, Donna Rice, Jamie Rueckert, and Colin Plathe, performing, followed by a performance by Tsion, then a performance by the final four (although it became five) students: Juan Valdez, Ashley Burtz, CJ Barton, Jake Ritzman, and David Starkweather.
When the students finished performing, Tsion took the stage for a final time to perform more of his poetry while the scores were tallied to determine the winners of the competition. The winners were: Jake Ritzman, first place and $200; Juan Valdez, second place and a $50 gift card to the bookstore; and Colin Plathe, third place and a very nice journal.
The show, attended by over 50 people, was the first on DSU’s campus, but probably not the last. Thanks go to all of the students who competed and attended, and many thanks go to Tsion the Wordsmith for coming all the way from Washington D.C. to perform for our school.
Feature image taken by Tiffany Sommer