by Samantha Beattie
English Teacher Matthew Kay started SLA Poetry Club because of his passion for spoken word and wanting to share it with students. His efforts have paid off.
Starting with just a few students six years ago, this year SLA has become a part of the SLAM League, in association with Philadelphia Young Poetry Movement (PYPM).
The SLAM League arranges poetry competitions for high schools around the area. Previously consisting of just six teams, the League increased to 18 schools and continues to grow. Because of this, the league now has two divisions, and expects to grow more next year.
For active SLAM member and Senior Douglas Wallace, the league means a lot.
“It’s a competition… but it’s not really a competition. It’s a way for kids to meet each other and have fun. It’s expression, it’s a confidence builder, it’s more than just poetry.”
Wallace has been in and out of Poetry Club, this being his first real year as a member.
“Back in the ninth grade there was no SLAM; we just did things,” he said. “Now there are new members and a league of people. There is a lot of new things, but it’s the same base reason for us to be together.”
“It had affected me in more ways than one. It’s building my skills as a person. Life lessons are being taught to us in poetry club.” Wallace also said.
Being apart of SLAM is fun for him. He keeps up with the regional events, including Dream Big, which was an event held at SLA earlier in March.
Senior Michael Dea is another student who has been in poetry club for one full year. He cites his own lack of confidence for his irregular attendance earlier.
“I also started going back in sophomore year, but i was spotty. That’s really when i was just getting into poetry, i wasn’t comfortable sharing.”
One change, he says, is an additional practice that occurs on Thursday. “It’s great. I really enjoy it,” he said smiling.
Presenting is something Dea is getting used to. “When you stand up and recite… you need to know how to stand still. Once you’re up there, your nerves kick in.”
He feels as though presenting as a group for his first SLAM event, will be easier. “Mostly I’ve only presented solo but when it comes to group piece, i think we’re doing something a little different so it might not be difficult… With a little bit of practice, I’ll be alright.”
Dea has not participated in SLAM just yet, but he plans on doing a group piece with Douglas Wallace and Joshua Melendez.
One thing that comes along with writing and poetry, is the critiquing. “There are a few times where people have nit picked at my work’, said Dea.
One thing Dea has heard is, “Oh, this is kinda cheesy”. But Dea has been teaching himself to not take it to heart. “I’ve been my biggest critic.”
However, poetry club is more supportive than critical — a big part of why the club is still growing.
“Nothing is off limits when it comes to writing,” said Da. “We’ll try to help one another come with different ideas. there are some things that aren’t approved… If one stumbles, we all help.”