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Local youths express emotions at 'Poetry Slam'

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The 22 poets got up on stage.

Each of them spoke just like a sage.

One by one, but sometimes two at a time

They all announced what was on their minds

In rhyme.

Suicide.

Two-timing men.

People being comfortable with who they are.

None of them tried to be a ham.

They were just participating, Friday,

In Hearts to Nourish Hope's first-ever

"Poetry Slam."

"The point of this was to give them an opportunity to express themselves," said Colleen Luther, one of the drama teachers at Hearts to Nourish Hope's summer camp. "We wanted to give [them] a chance to write for themselves, to perform -- and they really took to it. They really enjoyed getting to do this."

Luther said slam poetry is "like a performing art." It is sometimes performed in song, or with motions that accompany the lines in the poem, she said.

"It's very intense and modern," Luther said. "Some people use their hands or act out scenarios while they recite their poetry. Others get angry while they are performing. This is your chance to get your emotions out on stage."

The poetry slam is part of the summer camp offered by Hearts to Nourish Hope, a non-profit agency that works with at-risk children to help them be successful through activities such as helping students with college applications, or GED-preparation classes, said Deborah Anglin, the organization's executive director.

There are 500 local youths participating in Hearts to Nourish Hope's summer camp, and the poetry slam participants are just a small portion of that group, Anglin said. She said the agency would like to make the poetry slam a monthly event in the future.

The young people said they enjoyed getting to participate in the poetry slam, because it gave them the opportunity to express the emotions they feel over events in their lives.

"It gives us a way to express our anger in a more positive way," said Riverdale resident, Samantha Bernard, 16. Bernard performed a duet with fellow Riverdale resident, Sarah-Joelle Wise, 22, about a guy who is seeing two friends at the same time.

Bernard also performed a solo about secretly being in love with a guy, who she later finds out is gay.

Other participants, such as Ellenwood resident, Jazmyn Jones, 19, said they enjoyed the event because it challenged them to be artistic.

"It gives us an opportunity to build the creative sides of our minds," Jones said.