Slamming Poetry


Students gathered on April 21 in the auditorium to attend the 2nd Annual Poetry Slam, an event where students of all grades performed inspirational and powerful poems written by themselves. Members of the school’s Speak-out-Poetry Club and the Future 10 program, a club organized by JP Stevens administrators and teachers, formed a large majority of the performers. Through countless hours and many workshops, they practiced continuously to perfect their performances for the night. With the year’s overarching theme as stress, the students were asked to speak about a stress that is relevant to them, making each and every poem unique and personal.

Junior Nyasia James began the night with the poem “Keep Going.” Through her performance, she conveyed to the audience the idea of being your own enemy. The slam continued with freshman Ja’Nay Porter expressing another form of stress in her poem “Baby Girl,” which demonstrated her journey to overcome the difficulties she faced in her childhood. As the night progressed, juniors Cheikh Higgs and Ashley Shah turned the audience’s attention to a common problem among JP Stevens students: academic stress and competition. Cheikh performed “The Prison,” in which he expressed his fear of being seen not as a human but as a statistic. Ashley Shah explained through her poem  “6 Letters” about how she deals with her stress by finding the silver lining in tough situations.

The last performer of the night, senior Joanna Linn, amazed the audience with her performance of “An Ill-Planned Pregnancy.” Her poem focused on the many pressures an individual is exposed to and conveyed that one’s outward appearance may not express the significant struggles and problems he or she is going through internally. Her poem also explained how parents can be too concerned with their child’s success and give less attention to their child’s feelings. Joanna’s poignant performance and her poem’s meaningful message set herself apart from the other contestants and attributed to her first place win in the Poetry Slam event. Audience member, senior Nili Patel claimed, “The poem itself deserved a Pulitzer Prize, but the performance deserved an Oscar.”

The members of the Future 10 program played a major part in making the night a success. Future 10 is a pilot program in JP Stevens that serves to help students develop their skills in active listening, project organization, collaboration, and leadership. With the help of its advisor, Ms. Zazanis, the club decided to host a school-wide Poetry Slam for the second time, believing it is the best way for students to express their feelings, while also voicing the concerns of the entire JP Stevens student body. Ms. Zazanis noted, “What stands out to me the most about this year’s slam was the transformation that I saw take place in each poet as they stood up and performed his or her poem during every workshop. These students spoke from their heart and shared their deepest and most personal struggles, but they inspired us with messages of hope on how to overcome stress and face challenges with a positive mindset.” The success of the night is also credited to the Pinnacle Federal Credit Union, which agreed to sponsor the 2nd Annual Poetry Slam by donating $500 dollars toward the program, with $250 going to the winner.

The Poetry Slam turned out to be a special night for all of the participants, especially for the winner, Joanna Linn, who took the opportunity to express her feelings to her classmates and teachers. She commented, “I participated without any expectations. Winning was amazing, but seeing how the crowd responded to my message blew my mind even more.” The purpose of the Poetry Slam was to give students a chance to express themselves, and the members of the Future 10 program and the Speak-out-Poetry club certainly took the opportunity to do so.

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