BSU hosts 6th annual poetry slam

McKayla Clarksnodgrass, Photo Editor

The Manhattan High Black Student Union hosted their sixth annual poetry slam on March 23. 

“While it’s a chance to express, you know, your thoughts and opinions about things through poetry, it’s a chance for you to get to practice public speaking,” BSU president senior Chalice Carter said.

Each year, the event is held with a different theme for students to go off; some of the previous themes include unity and “Let Your Light Shine.” This year’s theme was “Quaranteens.” The participants were to base their poems on their emotions and experiences from the quarantine. 

“We asked [the participants] to basically describe what their quarantine [was] like, what they went through in quarantine, all the social justice changes that happened,” senior Rose Ried said. 

The poetry slam includes some skits to lighten the mood for the audience. The event had a good turnout and was also live-streamed on YouTube for those who could not attend to view it.

“I think we promoted it well this year, and we had a lot of teacher encouragement for their students to participate in the poetry slam,” Ried said.

The event most years is a way to end Black History Month, but due to the inclement weather days, the event was postponed to March 23. Keeping the original date would have limited the amount of time the BSU would have to sell tickets for the event and get the word out, potentially affecting the turnout for the event.

“If we had kept the same date, I don’t think we would have had the same turnout that we had this year,” Carter said.

The poetry slam had nine submissions and offered awards and prizes for the people who the judges deemed to have done the best. Teachers were asked to judge the poems performed at the event.

The winners were senior KJ Jones in first place with his poem “A Chapter Book Guide to 2020,” senior Colin Hohenbary in second place with his poem “Change,” and junior Ashi Wickramasundara in third place with their poem without a title. Jones’s poem was about how everyone’s lives changed in 2020, presented in a chapter book style, Hohenbary’s poem was about the changes that occurred in 2020 and Wickramasundara’s poem was about eating disorders.

“I just hope that the tradition of doing the poetry slam for BSU continues for as long as possible,” Carter said.