Saying their piece: Poetry slam team provides students with opportunities for expression

Nat Thomas, Reporter

While many people might not have known that Bellevue West has a poetry slam team, sponsor Jody Petrow does her best to encourage kids to join it. The Bellevue West poetry slam team is a recent addition to Bellevue West clubs. After being disbanded for several years it was brought back by Petrow two years ago. 

At a poetry slam competition it’s possible to win medals, and last year the Bellevue West team did. 

While Petrow does sponsor the club, she isn’t the one who teaches the poets how to do what they do. 

“We have poets who come in and coach the kids,” Petrow said. 

She explained that one of the poets is a Bellevue West graduate who agreed to step in and help. 

Petrow said she didn’t participate in poetry slam herself, but when she heard that it was possibly being brought back she was more than happy to volunteer to sponsor. 

“At one point I thought, ‘oh we don’t have one and we should,’ so I started it,” Petrow said.

Although this is only the team’s second year after being resurrected, students are actively putting in the work to keep it going. 

A typical competition in poetry slam cannot be done without a team. There are two rounds where not all people compete, although a group poem is required. While the group poem is required participants can also choose to perform a solo poem if they wish.

For students who are interested in improving their social skills poetry slam is something that could potentially help.

 “It’s really personal, it’s really intimate,” Petrow said.

She went on to explain how sharing experiences and stories in a poem requires a trusting environment, that is provided by the team, and social skills of their own. 

Although some may see writing a poem as a simple task, writing for a poetry slam event can be anything but.

“I think the most important thing is that the student finds something that speaks to them, something that they have feelings about and that they can write about in an expressive way,” Petrow said.

 The students in poetry slam can choose to write their own poems but they are also given prompts in practice to help them with their writing.

In an everyday day practice for poetry slam, two poets come in and present the students with writing prompts that can be anything from a random question or something such as flipping to a random page in a book and being inspired by it. Oftentimes these are the poems students choose to perform at competitions but poems written outside of practice are welcomed as well. 

Recently, on Friday Dec. 2, four students who were a part of the poetry slam team participated in an event with the Thespians. These four students got to perform the poems they had written themselves in front of an audience to help them better prepare for upcoming competitions. 

Poetry slam may not be compatible with everyone’s schedules but the Bellevue West team is fluid with its members, allowing people to come and go depending on how their schedules pan out. 

“One of our students had conflicts with some of the later competitions so other people stepped in,” Said Petrow.

While poetry slam may not be a club everyone would like to join, its doors remain open to all who may be interested.