Slam Poetry Club battles it out in Los Angeles

helenjenne

The Slam Poetry Club, despite its lack of official club status, has had a successful fall semester, highlighted by a trip to Los Angeles to InkSlam 2009.

InkSlam is a slam poetry contest where teams from around the nation come to battle it out. Eight teams were at Ink Slam, with four teams competing against each other at a time. There were four rounds, and the order of which team goes first is decided by drawing a letter out of a hat.

Then either an individual from the team can read a poem, or the team can perform a group poem. The poems are judged on a scale of one to 10 by five random audience members, and the lowest and highest scores are dropped.

The club’s co-founders, sophomores Dorian Zimmerman and Eli Singer, said that some of the most famous slam poets around were there.

“We were competing against our mentors,” Zimmerman said.

Both Singer and Zimmerman agreed that it was a great learning experience.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Singer said. Whitman placed seventh, beating a team from New York and losing to the sixth-place team by a very close margin.

In addition to going to Los Angeles, the Slam Poetry Club also hosted a Writers Colony workshop the Thursday before Thanksgiving Break and, more recently, had their first Open Mic on Wednesday Dec. 2. About 30 people attended, Singer estimated, and they plan to continue having similar events in the spring.

Ultimately, in the next school year or later, Zimmerman and Singer hope to organize a poetry slam competition at Whitman, and invite people from schools in the Washington area. In the meantime, though, they seek more members.

Zimmerman, Singer and sophomore Dujie Tahat, the third co-founder,  meet every Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the Olin second floor lounge, and encourage anyone to come, regardless of level of experience.

At the meetings, they read their poetry and then give each other feedback. Zimmerman said it’s not even necessary to bring a full poem; just a draft of a poem would suffice.

“We’re not going to be judgmental; we’re going to be constructive,” Zimmerman said.

Singer said that it’s okay even if you haven’t written poetry before.

“We’ll help you get started,” he said.

They have from three to six regulars who come to the meetings now. Zimmerman said that people have expressed a lot of interest, but one of the reasons he thinks Slam Poetry Club still doesn’t have too many members is because of the performance aspect of slam poetry.

“It’s kind of intimidating because it’s performance poetry,” Zimmerman said.

At the meetings, though, they give each other constructive criticism on the delivery of the poem, as well as the writing itself. A huge part of slam poetry, Zimmerman says, is how you sell it to the audience, which they can help you with, especially after their experience at InkSlam.

“[Slam poetry is] not that hard,” Singer said. “Anybody can do it. It’s just your own story.”