Poetry Slam Dunk

April is National Poetry Month, and this past month, our school proudly celebrated and gave appreciation to all its poets. Edison’s creative writing classes run by Ms. Gray and Ms. Ramos hosted the second ever Poetry Slam, and I can confidently say the event was a hit. The hard work of our creative writers is undeniable, and made the event. 

“The first time we did it, we had a hundred tickets and so this year we doubled it, and then it still sold out as well,” Ms. Gray said. 

The creative writing class is a new edition to the English department that is offered to 11th graders. The class challenges students with a unique curriculum, different from other English classes that are mainly based on texts. The students are given more artistic freedom to write based on their interpretation of specific prompts, which is why so many students are drawn to the course. 

“Last year was the first time that the class transitioned into the 12th grade as well, so it became a part two class,” Ms. Gray said. 

This is the third year that the class is being taught at Edison, and the program has quickly been gaining traction and popularity. The students have pushed for the class’s extension, and our school, as well as Ms. Gray continues to support them on their writing journey. This all leads up to the execution of the class’s biggest event of the year, the Poetry Slam.

“As far as the planning, it’s actually a class project and they do all the planning and preparation for the event so people have different roles,” Ms. Gray said. 

The students are given a multitude of responsibilities. Students were tasked with designing artwork, decorating the auditorium, creating fliers, working backstage, and performing their poems on stage. The planning was half the battle, with the most important part being the creation of the poems from the prompt given by Ms. Gray. 

“They are supposed to write based off of a social justice issue that matters to them, and then they’re also supposed to write from the perspective of a victim, so that’s where a lot of the pieces stem from,” Ms. Gray said. 

The poems written by the students were truly moving. The performers read their poems with such emotion, that even the auditorium felt heavy. I was amazed by all the poems that night, but some of them specifically stood out to me and others in the audience. 

“My favorite poem tonight was called “The Shining Star.” I felt like the person who performed, she really stood out, especially with her red dress. The emotion that she embodied while talking about her poem was excellent, I loved it,” senior Jashini Naraine said. 

“The Shining Star” is an original piece by Margarita Andalis. She is a junior in the creative writing class, and her poem describes her as a shining star, and the fact that she was always expected to be perfect, never making any mistakes. 

“At one point she was like “why can’t I just be myself.” I relate to that, and that’s why it was my favorite poem, because when I grew up I had to be looked upon as the best,” Jashini said. 

All the poems from the poetry slam were phenomenal, but one specifically took the cake. “Black Man” by Yordani Rodriguez and Jaydan Rivera was the only duo, and was voted for having the best poem of the night. Their poem was so special because of the true history behind it. 

“I was telling a story of when one of my friends told me I was the whitest Dominican they know, and I don’t wanna say that that offended me, but that really struck me because it boggles my mind how people think that way, that because you are poised, well spoken, that you can’t be black,” Yordani said. 

The social issue that Yordani and Jaydan focused on really stuck with the crowd, and was relatable to many. It sent the message that it is up to us to break the stereotypes that we are given, and write our own narrative, which was inspiring. 

“We really came together to unite our voices as Dominicans, as black Domican’s, to speak against that and really redefine what is a black Dominican,” Yordani said. 

The union of Yordani and Jaydan for “Black Man” was remarkable and they definitely deserved their win. All the poems performed deserved their praise, and I know each and every one connected to someone in the audience. The Poetry Slam was 100% a success, and I’m so glad to hear that Ms. Gray and Ms. Ramos will try to make it an annual event. I encourage everyone to go and show their support at the next Poetry Slam because there’s something we call all take away from the poems.

Rameshwar Tilacknauth

Hi, my name is Rameshwar, and I am a senior at Thomas Edison High School. I’ve always been a very artsy person, and love creating new things, including writing. I draw, bake, enjoy pop-culture, and fashion. My favorite pastime is watching tv-shows and movies. I hope my writing can bring positivity your way!