Marisa Cardin/Senior Staff Writer
On Nov. 16, students at Western gathered in the auditorium of the Gunnison Arts Center to see both students and community members show off their poetry. This event was held by Wordhorde, Western’s spoken word troupe. They hold one slam per semester, and each slam contains five judges, each of whom score the poets on a scale of one to ten, in order of how much they enjoyed the poem, for its language as well the performance of the poet. Jay Ytell, the vice president of Wordhorde, came in third place, with his poem centering around presidential elections being a real crowd pleaser. Bella Lewis, a senior at Western, placed second. Her poems centered around wonderful performances due to her outside experience as an actress. The winner of the contest, community member Len Germinara, stunned the audience with his final piece about climate change, urging listeners to go as far as to write to the president to urge him to defend our one and only planet.
Top interviewed Jay Ytell and Bella Lewis, asking them both about what inspires them to perform, and what they hope Western students will gain from the experience of the Poetry Slam. Ytell, a junior, said: “The most rewarding part of performing my poetry is making people laugh and enjoy poetry. I hope performing poetry helps western students realize that poetry can be fun and accessible, rather than pretentious.”
Lewis felt similarly to Ytell in his opinions on performing. When Top asked her what her reason behind performing instead of just writing poetry was, she said: “The idea terrified me, so I figured it must be worth doing. I could write up and down about what I’ve been through and be fine with it being read by anyone who happens to find it, but performing those words for strangers and friends who do not know these things about me was a different matter entirely. There is no option to hide behind the page anymore. So, I guess you could say this experience was my way of deciding not to hide anymore,” Lewis admitted. “It’s a kind of honesty that requires a lot of trust and courage, but after you’re through with it, you feel incredibly relieved. I never talk about these things with other people, so performing my poetry was a way of letting go of everything.”
Top also asked Lewis what she hoped Western students would gain from this experience. She said: “I think you can gain a lot from attending a poetry slam. The entire audience connects with what is being performed in a way you don’t get from other kinds of performance. Every one of them is such a unique and bonding experience for everyone involved and I think everyone should try to make it to one at least once while they’re in college.”
The Poetry Slam proved to be a huge success, inspiring performers, and hopefully audience members, to challenge themselves with new opportunities. Come and see Wordhorde’s final Poetry Slam next semester!