Creative Writing Students Perform in Poetry Slam

Creative Writing Students Perform in Poetry Slam

Funded by a gift from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, poet Geof Hewitt, of Calais, VT, spent a week with Ms. Silver‘s Creative Writing class and a week with Ms. MacGregor‘s.

Sitting at desks arranged in a circle, Geof had the students write pages worth of poems each day, writing in 7-minute bursts with the goal of quantity over quality. They competed for how much they could produce! Geof pushed the writers to revise, during class, with an eye toward stronger verbs, using forms of “to be” as little as possible; to consider number of syllables; to experiment with the effect of music; to figure out what words could be omitted, particularly adjectives and adverbs; and to test out different verb tenses and points of view. Each night the students had to produce a new poem with particular parameters.

In class, Geof required writers to stand up and recite their poem, prompting them to “Do it again. This time, more eye contact—with no hands in pockets—and louder!” Year after year, students love how Geof challenges them, all with good humor and warmth. A visitor to the class is likely to hear him saying to a student, “Did you write that? Wow. I wish I wrote that! You’re all right.”

The Poet-in-Residence unit wrapped up with 15 student and faculty poets sharing their work in the MJR Theater in a poetry slam format. The poets performed their poems for a packed theater and for the student judges, who ranked their performances on a scale of 1-10. Spectators were encouraged to loudly cheer or boo the judges assessments, but the scores remained final. In the end, the slam produced one winner, Alan Xi, and two runners-up (tied), Casey McVeagh and Dylan Moody A’Ness.

2020 Poetry Slam participants included: Kayla Busby, Whit Van Meter, Crystal Parshley, Alex Robinson, Lily MacVeagh, Sam Spelman, Kodiak Shepherd, Alan Xi, Dylan Moody A’Ness, Emily Trage, Cody Corcoran, Emily Silver, Alex Emerson, and Casey MacVeagh.