The University of Maine Campus Activities Board (CAB) hosted their biannual poetry slam in the North Pod of the Memorial Union on Friday, April 6. Eight budding poets shared their original poems in a three-round competition.
The host for the night, Cameron Grover, started things off by telling the audience that they were part of the poets’ performances. He encouraged audience members to snap when something resonated with them and to be engaged and participative listeners.
Grover has been a part of many of the CAB’s poetry slams and was visibly happy with the turnout for the ninth poetry slam the organization has put on since Spring 2014.
“Creative and emotional outlets that give students a voice are what is needed on college campuses today,” Grover said.
Then it was time for the first round, which was highlighted by Annabelle Osborne’s “10 things that will happen when the person you fall for just wants to be friends with benefits,” Cara Morgan’s piece about why Pride Month isn’t bull—-, and Jennifer McArthur’s piece, which included lines such as, “You are Purell in an open cut” and, “You are the pots and pans on the stove after having just done the dishes.”
The poetry slam felt very communal, so even though the poets were competing, they helped each other and gave feedback on one another’s work.
“I wrote one of the poems I performed tonight last week from 4 to 5 a.m.,” McArthur said. “But I have other poems I’ve worked on for two years. So I guess it all depends on the poem. But I look at my poems almost every day.”
“Poetry is alive. It’s always moving and changing and evolving. And that also comes from people outside of your work,” Morgan said. “So exchanging poems like we do and giving feedback to each other is so important.”
Many of the evening’s poems were deeply personal, and everyone had their own unique process for writing and recitation.
“My process is basically spilling my heart out and then making it into something decent,” Osborne said.
The next two rounds were highlighted by Aliya Uteuova’s “A Sacred Lesson,” in which her grandmother compares the fingers on a palm to the religions of the world, Harmony Stetson’s piece that compared surrounding oneself with others who have like-minded opinions to “strategically placed windows” in a home and a moving piece by Morgan about a friend’s overdose.
“That was something that took me three years and I wrote it in 40 minutes,” Morgan said. “So it kind of depends on how long you’ve had those thoughts and how you need to get them out.”
After much deliberation from judges and many drum rolls from the audience, Osborne was awarded third place, Uteuova second and Morgan first.
“I have never participated in a poetry slam before. My reading has been very personal and with my friends in a very small group,” Osborne said. “This is very incredible to have people think that I’m actually good and have people come up and compliment my work.”
Regardless of how they finished, all of the poets seemed happy to have a place to share their work and bare their souls.
“I think people have this idea of poetry as Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. You expose people to slam and they find something they can connect with,” Morgan said. “It’s the communication of emotion and feeling through poetry. It’s such an important art form. A lot of the people today, we didn’t know each other but we all just exchanged information and we’re friends now.”
This article has been updated from it’s original publication.