Thirteen nervous and excited performers filled the Lyon’s Den with energy on Saturday, November 2, at 7:00 p.m. at the Wheaton College Poetry Slam, hosted by iSpeak. Five winners earned a spot on the Wheaton College 2014 slam team that will compete at Colleges and Universities Poetry Slam Invitational, CUPSI, March 12 thru March 15, 2014.
Each poet in the first round had three minutes and thirty seconds for his or her poem and the final eight contestants had one minute and fifteen seconds in round two. The winners, Nataja Flood ’16, Jonathan Korns ’15, Kate Barlow ‘17, Alinafe Chanza ’17, and Tyrek Greene ’15, showed talent in their captivating performances and brought the audience to their feet.
Flood, the only performer to make it through both rounds with a perfect score, received ear-splitting audience approval. Chanza mesmerized the audience with her spellbinding words as seen in this excerpt from her recital, “Everything in the world has weight, especially the wind.”
Korns, also treasurer of iSpeak, delved into what he hopes is the meaning and purpose of poetry for our community, “My hope for Wheaton is that iSpeak continues to promote poetry as more than just an artistic expression or mode for performance. Poetry exists in every facet of life. Poetry is music. Poetry is storytelling. Poetry is listening.”
The poetry slam was well supported by Wheaton students as were the performers. “The qualifying poetry slam for CUPSI was a wonderful event with an impressive turnout. Thirteen emerging poets slammed their hearts out and epitomized the incredible talent at Wheaton,” Korns remarked about the event.
iSpeak, Wheaton’s only spoken word poetry club, is geared towards advocating for literacy and social activism through spoken word poetry. The club was founded in 2010 by Rozy Azari, a former high ranking youth spoken word poet in New York City. On November 8, iSpeak will be headed to Taunton High School where the group will be helping with the school’s youth poetry slam. Tyrek Greene, president of iSpeak, commented on the impact iSpeak has on the Wheaton community, “iSpeak wants to spread spoken word throughout the campus, knowing how therapeutic and important it can be for people who have yet to name the world that’s around them.”
Patricia Vazquez ’16, former iSpeak slam team member, believes iSpeak is sending out a very distinct message to the Wheaton campus: “Let your voice be heard.” Vazquez also expanded on the welcoming and accepting atmosphere of iSpeak, “I think the importance of iSpeak to the Wheaton community is creating a place where people can come, let their guards down, write, and listen to others’ stories in the form of the beautiful art that is poetry.”
In support of the ideals and principles as written in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, iSpeak motivates interest and involvement in social, political, and personal affairs. Most importantly, iSpeak sheds light on the differences between individuals and shows how those differences only bring the community closer together.