Students learn the nuances and beauty of poetry

Byram Intermediate hosts a 'Poetry Slam'

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  • The winners, from left: Molly Gannon, Timothy Van Klingener and Kayleigh Winegar Photos provided

  • The poets at the slam

  • Molly Gannon perfoming 'Homeless'

  • Timothy Van Klingener reciting his winning poem

By Laurie Gordon

— ”There is something about poetry beyond prose logic, there is mystery in it, not to be explained but admired.” — Edward Young

For the past month, students at The Byram Intermediate School have been writing poetry. Teachers at the school wanted to underscore this wonderful method of expression by celebrating it, and on last Friday, held a “Poetry Slam.”

“This is a way for students to share their readings in a performance setting,” said teacher Deb Hooker.

The sixth grade English classes worked on poems that contained figurative language, social issues, found poems - highlighting words in a book and then writing the poem from that. The students shared their poems in a performance manner with a slide presentation that highlighted the theme or feeling of the poem. The students used their voices, emotions and posture to help share these amazing poems.

Students then performed their poems in class and the each class had finalist that were judged via Skype by judges from other schools around New Jersey and the country.

Hooker said, “During today’s performance, the students were judged by teachers on their posture, eye contact, preparedness, enthusiasm and the power and impact of their poem. The final 22 students performed their poem in front of their peers, parents and administrators on Friday.”

Fifth grade students performed on bucket drums and boomwhackers. Songs included -”That guy next to me”, “Blue Muffin Tuesday” and “Turkish March.”

Sixth-grader Charlie Hudson wrote the poem “Daddy Please.”

He said, “After watching a video by another poet, I knew I wanted to write my poem about a social issue that included anxiety. My poem was fictitious about a father abusing his son and all the feelings involved.”

Grace Alderson is also in sixth grade.

She said, “'In Loved Ones Eyes' is about losing someone you love. In social studies we had a homework assignment about losing someone and I chose to write it as a poem. I felt that this was a touching and meaningful poem to write and share about in our slam.”

Sixth-grader Gavin Marocchi wrote “The Evil Wolves Having a Dance-Off.”

He said, “From a list of possible poetry topics, I chose this, I enjoyed writing this poem and thought of a lot of ideas to have fun with.”

Twelve-year-old, Claire Gallagher wrote the poem “Hunger.”

She said, “I thought that hunger was an important thing to talk about as a social issue. It is an on-going issue in our world and I wanted to address it and let others know what is happening in our world.”

Molly Gannon is 11 and wrote a poem entitled “Homeless.”

“I go to New York City a lot and I see many homeless people and I feel badly for them. I always try to give them a dollar to help them. So in my social poem I wanted to share this with my peers so that they are aware of this issue in our world. I enjoyed writing these poems in our classes.”

Though all of the children's poems took a lot of thought, creativity and intuitiveness, winners were selected. They were: Timothy Van Klingener, Kayleigh Winegar and Molly Gannon.

Thanks to Hooker and the teachers at Byram Intermediate School, the children were exposed not just to the beauty of poetry but to the joy and feelings of animation that come from reading it. Truly, to quote Atticus, “Poetry is what happens when your mind stops working and for a moment, all you do is feel.”

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