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Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 4:32 am | Mostly Cloudy 52º


Lunchtime Poets Slam at San Marcos High

Students perform, compete with high-intensity poetry

San Marcos High School is hosting a poetry slam today and tomorrow.

A poetry slam is the competitive art of performance poetry. Emphasis is placed both on writing and performance, encouraging poets to focus as much on what they’re saying as how they’re saying it. Poets perform original work alone or in teams before an audience and are judged using “Olympics” style scores by a panel of three judges, made up of teachers, local poets, and media personalities. The work is judged as much on the manner and enthusiasm of its performance as its content or style, and many slam poems are not intended to be read silently from the page.

Today, from 12:07 to 12:40 p.m., each semi-finalists will perform a piece they he or she has written based on words the teacher or librarian provided just prior to the competition. Tomorrow, from 12:23 to 12:54 p.m., each of the three finalists will perform a piece written on a theme assigned that day. Winners receive gift certificates to Chaucer’s Books.

Poetry slam poems are often highly politicized, drawing on racial, economic, and gender injustices as well as current events for subject matter. They feature a broad range of voices, styles, cultural traditions and approaches to writing and performance. Some use traditional theatrical devices, including shifting voices and tones, while others recite an entire poem in ironic monotone. Some poets use nothing but their words to deliver a poem, while others stretch the boundaries of the format, tap-dancing or beat boxing or using highly choreographed movements. Poems cover a range of emotions, experiences, and topics.

—Barbara Keyani is the Coordinator of Administrative Services and Communications for the Santa Barbara School Districts.

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