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Rhyme with a reason

Library event gives poets chance to gather, share

You could call it the versus of the verses.

The fourth annual Poetry SLAM returned to the Sandy Public Library on Thursday, April 13, giving local wordsmiths a chance to share their lyrical best with a live audience.

The event was hosted by Scott Poole — better known as the “house poet” of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s radio variety program “Live Wire” — and drew about 50 people to hear the poetical presentations.

The SLAM competitors numbered 11, including four poets in the category reserved for ages 8 to 16, as well as several returning participants. Among the SLAM veterans was Frank George of Estacada, who presented his work “The Dawn Elusive.”

“I love the experience,” George said. “I love sharing the work, feeling like I get feedback and people enjoying it.”POST PHOTO: ELIZABETH KELLAR - Scott Poole, Poetry SLAM host and 'Live Wire' house poet, reads an original work during the recent SLAM event at the Sandy Public Library.

Steve Parker, a poet from Sandy, attended his first SLAM.

He said he has been looking for a way to share his work publicly for several years, but hadn’t yet found the right venue or format.

Parker was especially looking for a place where he could speak his verse, giving it the inflection and tone meant when he penned it.

When he saw the SLAM advertised, he knew he had to give it a try.

Parker read a poem entitled “Easter” written several years ago and inspired by the Biblical story of Christ’s resurrection.

Poetry has a special connection to his life, too, Parker said.

“That’s how I proposed to my wife, through a poem,” he said.

There were three categories for the competition — under 16, 16 and older, and group. After all the poets read their works, the audience had a chance to cast their ballots, while Poole read a few of his original works.

Members of the Sandy library staff took a turn at the microphone, too, reading works by some of their favorite poets.

Once the ballots were counted, the winners were announced.

Hana Freet, 7, won in the under 16 category for the original poem “Stars.” Priestly Stout won the 16 and up category with the poem “BOY.” The group category was won by Edith Ramirez and Elizabeth Swarts for Ramirez’s poem “La Vida/Life.” Written and initially read by Ramirez in Spanish, Swarts read the English version of the poem. The winners received $25 in cash and their choice of a magnetic poetry kit. All entrants received a $2 gift certificate to use at the library’s Book Nook.

“Who says poetry doesn’t pay?” Poole quipped.

For George, it wasn’t the competition that mattered, but the camaraderie.

“I never know what’s going to come out of the Poetry SLAM each year,” George said. “I think it’s a great way for the local community’s unrecognized poets to express themselves.”