This was a big moment for Mr. Kay, who started SLA’s Poetry team at the school’s inception almost six years ago.
He created the poetry team for a simple reason: “I had a background in spoken word and wanted to share this passion with my students.”
Since its first year, the SLA poetry team has been growing. The group now stands at about 15 students who meet and practice on Saturday mornings. A handful of the team members are not even enrolled at Science Leadership Academy for high school.
The students who participate in the poetry team also find it immensely beneficial, enabling them to interact with their fellow students and create a sense of community.
Freda Anderson, an SLA alumni and former poetry team member, has learned how to talk in front of crowds and work through her nerves: “I just kind of forced myself to get through it in the beginning. And then Kay and my teammates were really supportive of me and that helped a lot.”
As time passed, the team began to change and evolve, growing to a league, an event offering students the ability to exercise their voice and teachers across the city the chance to network events dedicated to poetry.
These opportunities began last year, when Mr. Kay started up the SLAM League, which later became merged with PYPM, the winners of this past summer’s competition.
The SLAM competitions occur in the spring of each school year, attracting schools from across the area to recite poetry with fellow writers. Students participating in the SLAM competitions had originally recited individual pieces in its early stages, but as time progressed, the kind of poetry shifted from individual pieces to also include group pieces.
In the beginning, the SLAM League consisted of six schools, including SLA. However, within a year, the league jumped from six schools to 18. (possibly name well known schools)
In addition to the SLAM competition run by Mr. Kay, which focuses primarily on group poems, the poetry team has the option to compete in another sort of SLAM league, where they are able to read their poetry solo rather than in groups.
This league is more extensive than the group SLAM league, holding competitions across the nation, and holding a national competition where the best from across the country can compete against one another.
When asked what SLA poetry slammers do to prepare, Mr. Kay said the team members “practice various writing and performance techniques – sprinkle in some drama and work with emotional authenticity.”
The next big event for PYPM is participating in the First Person Arts festival on Friday, November 18th, 2011. The show is called 215: When Generations Unite, and will be at the Painted Bride Arts Center, located at 230 Vine Street.