They moaned and groaned, giggled and squirmed. Poetry? Write and read their own poems? North Carolina 4-H’ers?
And yet they did read poems, written by their own hands in just a short period of time, with prompts from Chapel Hill’s Sacrificial Poets, an award-winning spoken word poetry organization serving middle school, high school and college-aged youth in the Triangle area. As part of State 4-H Congress in June, a large group of 4-H’ers enjoyed a spoken word poetry session or “poetry slam.”
Poet C.J. Suitts of Sacrificial Poets started by asking the youth what they think of when they hear the word “poetry.” They responded with examples like “Edgar Allen Poe,” “rap” and “music.” Suitts asked them to think of poetry as “a chance to share our stories.”
Throughout history, Suitts said, people told stories through spoken word poetry because, until modern times, most people could not read.
Several of the Sacrificial Poets demonstrated their style of performance poetry, with poems they had written. Then it was time for the 4-H’ers to give it a try.
Suitts prompted them to write on a sheet of paper the top 10 things that had happened in their short life; where they grew up and a description of that place; three important people in their life; something they like to do, to eat and to watch. Then, he told them to take their lists, start with the line, “I am…” and write a poem.
After 15-20 minutes, he asked for volunteers to read. One after another, 4-H’ers came forward to share poems that were personal, poignant, some very sad and some funny. All the poets showed creativity and courage for their spoken word efforts. Enjoy some of the poems and photos, below.