[media-credit id=167 align="alignleft" width="300"][/media-credit]Sophomore Georgia Dubois crosses out “playing at”, scribbling “all about” above the blacked out words hurriedly. She slashes through an entire line, quickly running over the new transition in her head. Her friend from Shawnee Mission Northwest whispers advice and other small tweaks to Dubois. Just in time, Dubois puts the finishing touches on her poem and rises to take her place in front of the parents and students gathered to watch the fourth annual District Poetry Slam.
“Life is such a little tease, I mean none of us really get what she’s playing at. We try to personify her, put her into like terms, measure this and that and see if it adds up to life.”
Dubois flutters her eyelashes and shakes her head. Her voice rolls up and down smoothly, growing in intensity as her first stanza comes to an end. She looks up when she pauses, trying to connect with the judges and the audience. Over two hundred attentive parents and students fill the atrium at Horizons High School, listening and watching Dubois’s performance.
Prior to the District Slam on Sunday, May 6, Dubois got the chance to perform her own poem in front of a smaller crowd at the East Poetry Slam the previous Thursday. Dubois was one of five students who competed in the third annual East Slam. About 25 students attended the East Slam in the library, hosted by librarian Kathi Knop and English teacher Laura Beachy.
The East Slam was smaller than in past years; only five students competed compared to the 20 poets from last year.
“I think the timing was crazy and it’s just a busy time of year,” Beachy said. “Another problem was we were going to do it during seminar and then we switched that to after school.”
The five students that did compete in the East Slam are senior Elizabeth Mergen, sophomores Georgia Dubois, Hannah Swanson and Christopher Rodriguez, and freshman Cheyanna Atwell. A judge panel consisting of Beachy, Knop, English teacher Spring Gehring-Lowery and three students selected four students to move on to the District Slam: Mergen, Dubois, Swanson and Rodriguez.
The small numbers were encouraging to Mergen, who was competing in the East Slam for her second year.
“I try to stay as open minded as possible but there were only five people and four go on to districts so I was really hoping I would make it,” Mergen said.
At districts, the four East representatives ran into stiff competition from the other district high schools. None of the East poets continued on to the second round of the District Slam. In comparison, last year four East poets, graduate Chris Melvin, seniors Wil Kenney and Andrew Beasley and Mergen made it to the second round at Districts.
Kenney and Beasley were unable to participate in the East Slam this year due to International Baccalaureate testing. Beachy believes that the combination of a small turnout at the East Slam and different judges led to no East students qualifying for the second round at Districts.
“The judges are always really really different from year to year,” Beachy said. “They may be looking for different things, different things may move them so who’s to say.”