by MeyMey Seng
Philadelphia students are now in their eighth year competing in the slam league, an organization started by English Teacher Matthew Kay. Previously known as the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement (PYPM) as you may have heard from their chant, the new name is Philly Slam League.
Due to creative differences between the organizers, Philly Slam League is now under that new organization name. Despite that change, the league is still the same, just with a new venue since the Freedom Theatre in North Philadelphia closed down. Instead, Mr. Kay was able to secure a room in the Central Branch of the Free Library to hold the poetry slams.
“It was like a beautiful mix: they wanted more kids, and I’ve got kids. I don’t have a venue, and they were like, ‘we have a venue.’” Competitions take place on Fridays for the Philadelphia schools that signed up to compete with a team.
These teams are split into two sides: West and East. They are sorted based on many factors — not just geography — to create a more diverse group.
“I just split it up so it’s a good mix of teams that are more experienced and the teams that aren’t. I try to split the magnet schools, the comprehensive schools so there’s not like one division that has all comprehensive schools, one that has all charter schools,” said Mr. Kay.
The goal for all of the teams is to qualify for and then win the Slam League Championships, which is the final competition that will be held on Friday, June 1st at 4:30 pm. Before that, there are slams throughout the season which allows the teams to gather points based whether they win or get to the playoffs.
The SLA team has had its eyes on that prize since the start of this season.
“You can get the by, which means basically skipping semi finals and go straight to finals, which is kind of what we’re competing for this year because it saves us a lot of time,” said Sophomore Maren Lamb. Then, the eight teams with the highest points go through the semi finals to the championships and then compete together, which is the Philly Slam League.
SLA’s team feels even more prepared this year since more students joined the club this year. Following last year’s captain Otter Jung-Allen, Senior Lotus Shareef-Trudeau has taken the lead of the poetry team. These captains are chosen based on who has had to most experience and good spirit.
“She [Lotus] does a great job, looks at all our poems, and makes sure that everyone’s ready to go up. She’s the best,” said Junior Kimberly Gucciardi-Kriegh.
SLA will be represented by sophomores and juniors: Maren Lamb, Thea Risher, Mia Concepcion, Jade Gilliam, Willow Vass, Juliana Long, Jayla Wright, and Kimberly Gucciardi-Kreigh.
The schools that will be competing in the championships are SLA Center City, SLA Beeber, Academy Park, Olney, Cristo Rey, Palumbo, Pickett, and MCS. This is a free event that is open to the public. To both show support and to just have a good time, everyone should attend!