What Do You Get When You Add Poetry and Performance?

To have great poets, there must be great audiences too.
—Walt Whitman

Colchester High School recently welcomed Vermont’s Slam Poet Laureate Geof Hewitt to work with students on the writing and performance of poetry, culminating into a poetry slam—an event in which poetry performers are judged by the audience on their use of style, content, and emotion. It is an annual event that has become hugely popular with students, one with which—as we mentioned in Part IV of our October 2011 literacy primer—other experts like the Breathing Poetry Project’s Kim Jordan have assisted in the past. Sophomore students, most of whom participated in classroom poetry slams in the days leading up to the event, signed up to participate in front of an audience consisting of their classmates, and Geof Hewitt served as the slam master again this year.

Why are poetry slams an important literary initiative?

In addition to students often regarding poetry slams as a favorite activity at Colchester High School, the slams also challenge students to fine-tune their writing, encouraging them to develop their own distinctive voices and purpose.

In what other ways do poetry slams benefit our students and enhance their educational experiences?

Aside from helping to cultivate public-speaking skills—which are highly useful in a variety of scholastic, professional, and personal post-secondary-education environments—they also often facilitate the transformation of bashful and perhaps even disinterested students into engaged and enthusiastic scholars, providing a powerful platform for expression and helping to develop students’ confidence and vision.

To view a brief video of the poetry slam, please click here!

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