UHS Poetry Slam 2015

“Slam poetry is meant to be performed.”

            This, among other insights and jokes shared by our wonderful Masters of Ceremonies this year truly made the UHS Poetry Slam 2015 a memorable one. As per tradition, each half of the competition would begin with a sacrifice poem. Anastasia Wrenn performed a beautiful love  poem and kicked off the slam in style with straight 10s from the judges.

The first half of the slam was simply unbelievable. Performers confronted issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, unsupportive parents, and love.  Elizabeth Navarro slammed about the racism she experiences as a Latina. Her calm demeanor and eloquent words captured the audience’s attention and brought to light an extremely serious issue in our own community. We heard from Sam Sloanaker, who gave a heart-wrenching reveal of his coming-out story. He wrote in the style of Mackelmore’s “Same Love” and when tears began streaming from his eyes, audience members were able to feel his passion and pain. We heard from Kayla King, who declared her love for musical theatre and announced her determination despite the odds. She graced us with her beautiful voice that proved-at least to me- that her dreams are absolutely possible. All the poets were phenomenal, and there was much boo-ing at the judges’ stinginess to award points.

Halla Nelson and Haden Backerms were our lovely MCs in the second half. Continuing a tradition from one of the first half MCs, Julien Galons, these girls delivered to us an ‘obligatory joke’. Haden asked, “Where do poems come from?” to which she answered, “Poet…trees!”. Haden’s joke, in tandem with Halla’s astounding sacrifice poem were a great start to an amazing second half. Quinn McBrayer performed his poem “Letters” in which he recited letters to his past, present, and future self. His clever use of profanity invited many laughs and snaps from the audience. Olivia Marhefka and Maya Henry shared a breathtaking piece about how racism is still a prevalent issue in America. Their back and forth conversation culminated with the buzz phrase, “Is racism still an issue? It is if you still need to ask”. These words elicited uproarious snaps and applauses, and they were appropriately met with straight tens from the judges. Another tangible subject to most of us High School students is the stress that comes with taking the SAT. Connor Hague captured the inaneness of the SAT gracefully and comedically in her slam poem. Another highlight from the second half was Xarlie Gutierrez’s poem about his gender identity. His last phrase, “I deserve a f*cking penis!” was one of the truest statements I heard all day.

When the final tallies were in, Olivia Marhefka and Maya Henry were awarded first place, Sam Sloanaker was awarded second, and Xarlie Gutierrez was awarded third. Every year there are so many fantastic performers and it seems impossible to only recognize the top three. Thank you to all of the performers who filled this year’s slam with so much emotion and reminded all of us Penguins what a special place UHS is.

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