It was my pleasure this week to facilitate a workshop about Slam Poetry in the Schools. Clayton Scott, poet laureate of Fayetteville and a noted poet and performer, came to Wilbur Mills Education Service Cooperative to give a ‘creative awakening presentation.’ The teachers in the workshop heard about Poetry Out Loud, a national recitation contest for high school students and received ideas on how to incorporate this activity into their curriculum. POL is bringing the re-entry of recited poetry into Arkansas classrooms. As Mr. Scott pointed out, this is nothing new. And I gave a silent assent. I came to enjoy poetry when I heard my older sister rehearsing “Who Stuffed that White Owl” for presentation in her junior high English class. When I reached 8th grade, I relished that part of our literature studies. Even now, when I read chapbooks for my own pleasure, I will say the words aloud, loving the rhythm and flow (or not).
I was not able to sit in on all of the workshop, but when I returned in the afternoon, a slam was going on. Some participants were reading, some judging. There was an emcee and lots of applause and encouragement. Everyone seemed totally engaged in what was going on. Several had found their ‘inner poet’ and the words they read reflected that. It was awesome.
Poetry Out Loud is funded by the Arkansas Art Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information about Clayton Scott, slam poetry and Poetry Out Loud, visit these sites: www.claytonscott.com and www.poetryoutloud.org.