Poetry Slam

Lara Murray

What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you think of poetry? Shakespeare? Sonnets? Rhythm? Art? Perhaps nothing. It’s no secret this form of literature isn’t for everyone. People see it as a “foreign language” or an odd hobby. Due to this, those who are gifted with the ability to write and create something as beautiful as a poem may not have anywhere to turn to and are forced to hide their work, which could lead to the end of their poetry. However, Oneonta’s community always has its doors open for anyone to express and explore their talent without judgement. With that, the Poetry Slam was born. This loud, goofy and fun event celebrates poetry and its poets in the best light possible.  

“We are at a Poetry Slam event, and unlike any form of art which provokes or inspires thought and emotion, we will be refreshingly honest.” October 6th marked the 176th Poetry Slam at Oneonta. The event opened with Robb Thibault, who was guest hosting for the PSA President that night, enthusiastically welcoming the audience. Thibault informed members that this event they were free to write any poem, some of which included racism, sexism, love, college life, mental illness, etc.  

Like every Poetry Slam, this one had a very special guest. The night’s feature was Jovic Poetic, a man of many talents and success. A writer, an organizer, and an educator based in Brooklyn, NY. Poetic became the first recipient of the John Morning Award for Art and Service, the founder of Insurgent Poets Society, Carnival Slam, Cultural Exchange and the co-founder of The Brooklyn Poetry Slam. His work has been showcased on season four of TV’s Lexus Verse and Flow and he’s been on PBS News. Jovic Poetic came to us live from his house with two intentions alone: to sight poetry and have fun. His four poems surrounded racism, hardships, and the beauty of life which moved the audience members. Some felt sorrow, some felt hopeful, and others felt inspired.  

After, the official Poetry Slam began. Members who wished to be contestants wrote their name down on a piece of paper and placed it in a glass bowl to be selected. Then three judges were chosen by Robb Thibault himself to listen and rated each poem from a 0.0-10.0. However, audience members were more of the judges than the real ones. The audience’s reaction was positive, everyone cheering the contestants’ work. 

“I have been involved since the Fall of 2012, that was my first year as a student., though I have been to a Slam the semester before. My sister was a student here and she loved coming to Slams, she brought me to one and I fell in love. That’s why I came to this college. So, I was on the team for two years and then I started coaching the team, and I have been involved with that capacity ever since. Last year when it was all virtual, I hosted most of the Slams from the comfort of my room,” says Justine Bishop, an Oneonta Alumni. When asked where she sees this going forward in the future with her involvement she replied, “I am currently finishing up my Master’s degree because I want the students who do this program to get the credit they deserve for it. Students who have been on this Slam team put in like four hours, six hours a week of actual in-person meetings time, plus the time they take to write and edit on their own. And the time they take to memorize and perform. I give them homework assignments, we have structured lessons, they have big events throughout like homework assignments like they deserve actual credit for the class. So, I am trying to become a professor so I can give the students the credit they deserve for being here and putting in the work.”  

Oneonta’s 177th Poetry Slam will be on October 20th at 7 pm. But that’s not all, Oneonta also has a Poetry Slam Association at work. Their meetings are Wednesdays at 5:30 pm in the Leatherstocking room in Hunt Union. They hope to see you all there! 

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