A wooden podium, cloaked in stickers that range from “EGTC” to mysterious pirate heads, is located at the front of room 218. This is the place where freshmen are faced with the challenge of the Slam Poetry Unit every year. For most, this treacherous process starts with difficult brainstorming. As any current or past students of Mr. Brocato will know, he advises his young poets to write about something that holds personal importance to them. Madeline Morin, one of Mr. Brocato’s students, revealed that it was pretty difficult to choose a subject for her slam poem. However, she finalized her topic decision after speaking with her mother. “My mom told me to write a letter to myself, without telling the audience it was about me,” admitted Morin, “But I had to tell them it was about myself.” Nonetheless, she waited until the end of her poem to finally inform the audience of this. For the majority of this letter to herself, Morin used “you” rather than “I.” As she said, “I hide in a point of view that isn’t mine.”
On the other hand, Petra Smith, an EGHS freshman, explained that her slam poem for Mr. Brocato’s class was inspired by Mr. Brocato himself. “I had a conversation with him about stress – particularly, the stress I was putting on myself,” stated Petra. However, brainstorming topics for her slam poem was not the only part of the slam process where Petra was influenced by her teacher. This young poet weaved the metaphor of trainride throughout her poem. “Mr. Brocato always tell us, ‘You can use the cliche. Take it, go along with it, make it your own,” reveals Petra, “So I took the cliched train metaphor, and thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to run with it.” With this, Smith began writing.
One particular freshman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, declares that she really enjoys the writing process in poetry. In fact, she came to this realization after joining EGHS’s Slam Poetry Club at the start of the year. According to her, she never used to never write poetry, but she joined Slam Club in the beginning of the year because she loved reading it. “In poetry you have to search for the meaning. I like the search, the challenge,” this student announced. After joining the club, she realized she really liked writing poetry as well. As she explains, “It’s really fun covering things in metaphors.” As another member of Slam Club, Madeline Morin also relates to joy of the writing process. “You come up with a really good line, and you just think, ‘I can’t wait to share this with people,’” stated Morin excitedly. Furthermore, sharing with people is by far her favorite part the poetry slam. After all, slam poetry is written not only to be read, but to be performed.
However, this year, Mr. Brocato’s students had more than one opportunity to perform their poems. Along with the in class poetry slam, Mr. Brocato also set up an “open forum” poetry slam after school on Wednesday, March 16. This was an event that welcomed any of his students to perform their slam poems in a different environment. It offered an opportunity to some of the more passionate poets, while allowing students to see their peers from other classes perform.
Teah Markstone explains that after school event was fun, but she was much more nervous in that environment. Throughout the school year, her class became very close. However, she wasn’t as comfortable around all the people in the open forum event. “It felt weird admitting all of this in front of people I don’t know,” declared Markstone. Contrarily, Madeline Morin preferred performing in front of people she doesn’t know as well because, “If I did something to offend someone, it’s comforting to know I probably won’t see them again.” Furthermore, she enjoys the thrill of performing, especially in front of a larger audience “I’m an actor,” declared Morin, “I thrive off of people accepting and praising me.”
Another EGHS freshman admitted that she preferred the in-class poetry slam, mainly due to who was the in the audience. Although the open forum event was interesting, this Honors English student wanted to impress the students in her class. She wanted to prove herself to the people she had been surrounded by all year, and she did. In fact, she says that this was her favorite part of the whole process. “Everyone was so shocked. I love shocking people.”
On the other hand, Petra Smith declares her favorite aspect of the slam poems was simply the way she saw her peers open up. “There were some people who I thought I knew because I’ve seen them all since first grade, but I didn’t really know them, until they got up there.” Teah Markstone agreed with Smith, saying, “You heard so many people say things you would never expect them to say.” With this, the power of the Slam Poetry Unit is clear. It not only teaches young freshmen about themselves, but about their classmates as well.