Cicero Self-expression is one of the most important — and one of the hardest — things a teenager can do.
Cicero-North Syracuse High School has created a forum in which students can do just that.
At the school’s annual Poetry Slam, held April 30 and May 1, students are able to share their own poetry as well as that of famous poets in front of a large group. They can also sing a song; one student performed an original piece and played the ukulele. Students are judged by a panel of volunteers, teachers at the school, who determine a first-, second- and third-place winner. Each winner receives a Barnes and Noble gift card.
This year, staffers also joined the event; the winners of the student event had the opportunity to judge the faculty on their readings.
“We wanted to get staff involved to generate camaraderie and collegiality,” said English teacher Patty Farrington, who organizes the event every year. “We need to act as role models and show the students we’re readers, too.”
The event began in 1999 as a way to celebrate National Poetry Month, which takes place every April.
“It emphasizes the important role poetry, and language as a whole, play in our lives,” Farrington said. “We felt we needed a place for students to share and express their own work. We’ve also found over time that students have asked about sharing other pieces they felt influenced by, so they share those as well.”
Farrington said she thought the event was important because it allowed students freedom of expression as well as total creative control.
“In free verse poetry, there are no rules, and even though there are some rules as to structure with other forms, there are no boundaries on what someone feel,” she said. “To express and have that ultimate control — where else do they have that except over the words they wrote and shared? That’s phenomenal for a young person.”