Award Winners Read at Poetry Slam


Pictured are all the readers at the Poetry Slam, held April 30 in the library. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Devine)

Sarah Hale, Staff Reporter

The end of April was marked by the annual Poetry Slam held in the school’s library. Twelve students shared some original poems and four teachers also read a couple published works.

The Poetry Slam, which has been coordinated and run by librarian Margaret Devine for the last ten years, has become a Warren Hills tradition.

While not always prominent in high school education, it is clear that students can learn a lot from poetry.

“Words are transformative and have the power to change realities for many who sometimes may feel marginalized or invisible,” said Devine. “Hearing the words of someone else who has had a similar experience may have the power to transform you. And hearing them spoken as a poem makes them accessible and powerful.”

This year’s event was especially significant because of the award-winning students who participated.

Early this spring, various students submitted their works to the Tri-County Literacy Council’s Young Authors Competition. Three of these students – senior Madisen Snyder, junior Phoebe Sessler and senior Camran Bastien – placed for their work.

Bastien wrote a compelling essay about his experience with religion, which placed first in its category.

“It’s essentially a larger commentary about fighting dogma and thinking for yourself. If people get nothing else from it, I hope they get that now more than ever,” said Bastien.

Bastien also shared a personal poem at the Slam. Bastien believes that one can interpret poems as “fragments of a person,” and uses writing as a tool to deal with difficulties.

“Like many art forms, poetry functions as the bridge between people,” he said.

The other two winners entered the Poetry category.

The piece Sessler submitted and read at the Slam, entitled “Home Alone,” placed third, and mesmerized the audience.

Like most writers, Sessler uses her personal experiences to fuel her poems.

“My anxiety inspires a lot of my writing because it’s a way to articulate,” Sessler said.

She prefers to keep her work concise and strays from writing outward narratives.

“I try to make it nonsensical and then people can interpret it however they want,” she said.

Snyder placed first with her poem “Rain Woman,” which she wrote as a freshman and revised for the competition. Her poem tells the heartfelt story of a dancer in the rain, and a man who draws her. With its whimsical nature and perfect diction, it is no wonder it won first.

“I was feeling like her [the dancer] at the time. I wanted someone to notice me and to figure out that I wasn’t acting the same as I normally do,” Snyder said. “I was in a bad place, and writing it out helped me feel better.”

Snyder said she has always had a love for writing. She prefers free verse because there aren’t any guidelines.

“I also love to use metaphors and symbolism and a lot of imagery. I think it makes it come alive,” she said.

Despite how effortless these students make it seem, poetry is a difficult medium to tackle. For Snyder, the hardest part is “finding something to write about.”

It seems fair to say that this year’s Poetry Slam was a huge success, and if there is half as much passion at next year’s, it will continue to be so.