A celebration of language took place at Maple Ridge secondary during the recent SLAM competition.
Students from across the district delivered funny, emotional and sometimes intense poems, laying bare their inner thoughts for all to hear.
Winners of this year’s SLAM: Myah Steeves from Pitt Meadows secondary, for Most Humourous poem; Natalie Nakamura from Thomas Haney secondary, for Most Blood on the Page, or most emotional poem; Taleah Threatful from Maple Ridge secondary, for Top Wordsmith or the poem with the best descriptive language; Miranda Kahlert from Thomas Haney secondary, for best Dynamic Delivery.
The Poetry Hero, or best overall poem went to Mario Cruz, from Maple Ridge secondary, who wrote about his experiences of being an immigrant child in Canada in a poem titled I Remember My Childhood.
“As a kid growing up, it was very difficult. I got bullied lots for having a darker skin tone, speaking with an accent, laughing louder. Just bringing my culture here and people rejecting it,” said Cruz, who moved to Canada from El Salvador when he was seven years old.
He said the main point of his poem was to create awareness around the difficulties immigrant children face when they move to a new country.
“A lot of people think racism is dead at school, racism doesn’t happen in school, but there are little kids like me, back then and today, and they are growing up, just as I am, being bullied,” he said.
Kahlert, in Grade 9, wrote her poem titled Kids These Days for an English 9 assignment.
She doesn’t like the expression and wrote about how the world is messed up because of the older generations who blame youth.
“But we just came into this world,” she said.
“The older generations have completely messed up the world and now we’re trying to fix it.”
Nakamura, in Grade 10, wrote about a girl that she likes called Ask.
“How, even though I have all these emotions and even if she asked for anything I would get it for her, I don’t need to ask for anything because she is my everything,” she said.
Threatful, in Grade 9, wrote her poem, Up To You, in Grade 6 and made changes to it to make it more mature. It had three parts to it: one about a girl desiring love because she is missing her father from her life; the next about a boy who takes out his pain from his family-life by bullying others at school; and finally about social media and how people just want attention.
“The SLAM is an event that seeks to provide an opportunity for our fabulous students to showcase their verbal gymnastics, their brilliant beat, their imagery-laden poetry, and their hearts and minds through spoken word,” explained Sid Siddique, who teaches writing at Maple Ridge secondary.
Judges this year: English teachers Kelli Bahia and Kim Clarke; school trustee Kim Dumore; UFV student teacher Jennifer Gertz; music teacher Mel Scarcella; and Grade 12 student Naomi Gatehouse.
Each high school in the district has its own in-house event and send their top six students to compete in the district SLAM, said Siddique, adding that the MRSS SLAM is named after the school mascot, the RAM SLAM.
He said that SLAMS are an oral tradition that have been given a new life with ordinary people finding an outlet for story-telling.
Siddique added they also seek to promote, celebrate, and engage students in the art of poetry with a captive audience.
“I think that’s what we saw, heard, and felt today at the event.”