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High school students compete in various sports, but at Franklin High the competition includes poetry

DAVID F. ASHTON - Welcoming a full house to the 2018 FHS Poetry Slam were co-masters of ceremonies Marcéline Kilassa and Nathan Wilk. Now in its seventh year, the annual Franklin High School (FHS) "Poetry Slam" got underway Thursday evening, April 12, with 21 poets/performers taking the stage of the school's former auditorium, now beautifully remodeled into its "Media Center" library.

For the uninitiated, a "poetry slam" is a competition in which poets read or recite their original work before an audience and panel of judges.

"The performers can't use props, music, or costumes, and the performances are limited to three minutes," explained FHS freshman English teacher and Poetry Slam Committee member Pam Garrett. "This event gives students an opportunity to 'have their voice'; it's a place where they can express their creativity and be rewarded for their work.

"Although we say, 'the [scoring] point is not the point', it is competitive – because, in the end, someone wins the slam, receives $100, and goes on to compete at the citywide 'Verselandia' competition in late April, held downtown in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall."

Students say they participate, Garrett told THE BEE, because there are avenues for specific expression at Franklin High for music, drama, and dance, this gives them a "written word/spoken word" way to express themselves. "They tell us they love coming back, they love the camaraderie among the poets, and they really enjoy supporting one another, even though it's a competition."

FHS students Marcéline Kilassa and Nathan Wilk, who served as masters of ceremonies, got the program started and introduced the program's Chair, Sarah Childs. She thanked the school's PTA for funding the poetry slam, and outlined how performances are scored.

The students spoke, emoted, and at times poured out their emotional lives, each one in three minute segments. During the presentations, the audience members snapped their fingers to indicate that a passage was meaningful or entertaining.

After two rounds of competition, FHS sophomore Kalyn Street took first place; junior Lucinda Drake came in second, and in third place – meaning that she also serves as an alternate to "Verslandia" – was FHS junior Lucy Walker.

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