The poetry slam started out with a couple of open mic slams, then an experienced sacrificial slam to help the judges, then six or seven actual slam poems for the competition, before ending with a poem read by the President of UM Slam Poetry. My favorite part of the night was the opening mic slam poems, I think these students should have competed. Two of these poems talked about separating from old high school friends as they left for college, and how they know their relationship will never be as strong. Something I was able to relate too. These poems were told with strong imagery, one using Mario Kart and the other using the idea of a house falling apart. The other open mic was a very long but courageous poem about suicide and strength using strong imagery of fog and sinking ships.
Because this is a UofM sponsored organization the event was held in the Kalamazoo room of the Michigan League. I understand that space is hard to get and compared to most rooms at Michigan the Kalamazoo room is quite pretty with an older more traditional feel that can be quite nice. Still, I am not a fan of the space for slam poems because it doesn’t feel intimate or have any way of highlighting the speaker reading the poem. There is no feeling of a stage present and no way of altering the lighting which has the room dimly lit throughout. I feel that the space makes a big difference to students reading slam poems, space can make them feel more important and emotional, and space can allow the audience to focus on the reader and get more enjoyment from what is being performed.
The President’s poem at the end was about growing up biracial and the disconnect she feels with Japanese people even though she speaks Japanese fluently. It was extremely well written (my favorite poem of the night), and it sounded like it has been performed many times. Being biracial myself I was able to connect strongly with what she said. However, the poem was also touching upon isolation we feel from our heritage and the cultures of our parents. Which I know many second generation Americans feel, multi-racial or not.
There were very few students attending the slam outside of people actually performing, their close friends, and club members. Because there were so few performers this meant that there were like 20 people in the room. Maybe Monday night isn’t very good, or everyone was busy getting ready for break. Regardless, I plan on attending the next slam December 6th, and I hope to see a full audience.