<< Front page Arts February 20, 2004

Spoken word poetry slams into Oberlin hall

Last Friday, students lined the walls and filled the stairwells of Craig Lecture Hall, eagerly awaiting the verbal slinging and oral warfare of “Slam It!” a Winter Term project of senior Meagan Huelsenbeck. Dim, dramatic lighting, strategically placed throws and the gentle accent of a bass provided by senior Marion Parker, transformed the familiar lecture hall into the perfect spot for a poetry competition. MC Darryle Johnson pumped up the crowd and for the next two hours, the audience was bewitched by the power of the pen.

Huelsenbeck, first-years Jaimie Harrow, Daphnee Jean-Francois, Jessica Scharff, and Gina Farinaccio, were among the “Slam It!” competitors. Each student spent the Winter Term composing poetry. On Jan. 26, they met in Oberlin for a series of poetry readings, workshops and open mics.

The project had been Huelsenbeck’s dream for about a year. She wanted to create a spoken word community in Oberlin, and with completion of the Winter Term project and the poetry slam, she feels that her goal has been accomplished.

“The first rule of poetry is support, support, support,” she said, “It didn’t matter how any of it turned out, it didn’t matter who won and who lost, because we had already built the relationships.”

The poetry slam doubled as a fundraiser. Ushers from the Oberlin College Friday Suit Committee manned the door, equipped with lampshades to collect donations for the Lorain County Rape Crisis Center, an organization that Huelsenbeck is passionate about. The event raised over $230 and raised awareness of the organization’s services.

First-year Gina Farinaccio walked away the “Slam It!” victor, but only after a strong showing by all of the slam’s members. Each poet offered a deep and heartfelt performance, including featured poet, sophomore Baraka Noel, and audience participant first-year Jovan Campbell. According to Huelsenbeck, the poetry slam was the first of what will hopefully be many. The bookstore has shown interest in hosting future performances, and an organizational meeting for those interested will be held on Feb. 23 at 8 p.m., Wilder TBA.


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