Hanna Da’Mes, Staff Writer
Poetry Slam Association Presents: Story Slam 9
SUNY Oneonta’s Poetry Slam Association (PSA) hosted the semester’s first “Story Slam,” an event to start off the club’s succession of spoken word readings for the spring, on January 31. A story slam is unlike the regular, competitive slam poetry readings. The rules are more relaxed, the time limit increased, and the audience is more intimate.
Katie Hebert, Secretary of PSA, was the lively host for the night. She introduced the event as a “revamped poetry slam,” and provided general content warnings for the nature of poems before anyone began. When Hebert began explaining the role of what is called the “sacrifice,” members of the club chanted “blood, blood, blood,” to signify the start of the performance. The “sacrifice” is to present a poem in order for the judges to have a base score for the rest of the performers.
The first poet, Kelsey, read a moving poem about the struggles and insecurities that pervade relationships. A particularly hard-hitting line in her poem was “I am a traffic light of mixed signals,” a statement filled with truth and self-awareness, the inability to change for other people.
Christopher DiCarlo was next on stage, after host Katie announced that it was his first time ever slamming. His poem was filled to the brim with mystical, medieval-esque imagery and metaphors, his tone dark and haunting: “You are time itself… it begins with a chalice/Ends with a blade.” Host Katie told a few jokes from a book in between performances, earning some groans from the audience, but it was obvious that it was all in good fun, revealing the close-knit nature of the community.
Next was Chandler Aldrich, who delivered a poem based on a retrospective look at a child’s perspective of his father. The narrative consisted of a series of boyish thoughts and questions directed toward his mother about his father’s habits and absence. Eyes wide in childish innocence, Chandler took on the persona of his younger self, showcasing his apparent acting skills. In the poem, he wrestles with self identity, asking his mother and the audience, “If I could write my name over and over and over again, would it allow me to be real?” The poem’s take on a young boy’s desire to understand his father and the constant endeavor to please him is emotional and touching.
Jillian Moczara, President of PSA, performed a deeply personal piece about boys who have catcalled her, as well as the gray areas of asexuality. “Asexuality is not a word that comes easily to me when I think of myself,” Moczara recites, making fearless eye contact with her audience. “Asexual is a word too big for my mouth/ It is too long to yell at catcalling boys.” By her calm yet blunt expression and fluid gestures, it was obvious that Jillian is no stranger to peforming slam poetry.
With an average score of 9.4 out of 10, Chandler won the story slam. The event showcased all the performers’ indisputable hard work, and the audience’s appreciation for the art of the spoken word. There will be many more slams to come this semester, and if you’re interested, the Poetry Slam Association meets on Wednesdays at 5 P.M. in the Hunt Union Square.