Record number of students compete for few spots in slam poetry

Jacob Olson

Death, drugs, racism, rape, anxiety, anorexia, humor, and humiliation were just some of the many topics that pulled tears and laughter from the audience at this year’s Poetry Slam auditions.

On Nov. 15 and 16 and Dec. 2, 23 students auditioned for a spot on the Slam Poetry team in the Little Theater.

Junior Emily Todd recites her slam poem titled
Junior Emily Todd recites her slam poem titled “I am, This is” at the slam poetry auditions in the Little Theater.

Junior Ruby Elson auditioned for the team with a poem titled “Open Letter to Redwood Boys.”

“You are an object/ in fact he can pick your shape, size, color, where and when he wants you,” Elson recited.

“It was about the inherent misogyny and rape culture at Redwood,” Elson said. “It’s interesting how when we live in a place with a lot of opportunities and a lot of freedom, our thinking gets a little skewed.”

Junior Emily Todd auditioned with a poem titled “I am, This is” in which she recited her experience of being looked at differently because of her race.

“I’m very aware that when people see me, they see me as black.  That will send a whole chain of stereotypes that I may or may not live up to,” Todd said.

“This is the end/On this day a truce I can no longer extend/To you because your ignorant mind cannot comprehend/That my black is beautiful and it is more than just a trend/It is my mind and my soul and for that I will not be condemned,” Todd recited.  According the her, this part was her favorite and summed up the meaning of the poem.

Jeff Ryan, a Poetry Slam team adviser who attended every audition, said that the number of people trying out has drastically increased in recent years.

Senior Oscar Mogollon recites his slam poem at the slam poetry auditions in the Little Theater.
Senior Oscar Mogollon recites his slam poem at the slam poetry auditions.

“For the past five years or so we’ve held auditions. [Five years ago], I don’t know if we had enough people trying out,” Ryan said. “I think it was more like if you wanted to be in, you could be in it because we were lucky to get five or six people.”

The past auditions typically only lasted one lunch period, but this audition took three full lunch periods.

The extended audition wasn’t just because of the increased number of people who tried out––it was also due to the fact that many poems exceeded five minutes.

“Generally the content was better. People seemed like they put more thought into it,” Ryan said, adding that this year’s auditions were the best that he had seen.

On Saturday, sophomores Stephanie Oh, Eric Ahern, and Alberto Deleon, and junior Emily Todd received word that they made the team, joining senior Sabrina Nargiz, and juniors Jason Seavey, Olivia Sinclair, and Jake Baldwin to complete the eight-member team.