Coming together through poetry, students from San Gabriel (SG) competed in the Crosstown Scrimmage on April 2 at Mark Keppel High School (MKHS). Poets from MKHS also competed. There were a total of six rounds with three poets each round.
Originally labeled a district tri-city competition, Alhambra High School’s poets dropped out from the running for unconfirmed reasons, resulting in the name change of the competition. Poets, such as sophomore Jasmine Flores, were disappointed with only two teams participating.
“Hearing Alhambra’s poems would have really helped in inspiration [for] our own poems and just to see what we are competing against,” Flores said.
The top poet trophy was awarded to an MKHS student and went to the MKHS slam poetry team. Regardless, the poets from SG said that the general experience was crucial to their improvement as performers, especially with the Classic Slam poetry competition approaching. Sophomore Ashley Fung enjoyed supporting her teammates and viewed it as “very interesting and inspiring at the same time.”
“I got to learn much more about poetry performances,” Fung said. “Also, I saw the qualities [of] our group and things that we could improve [on]. Although we didn’t win, it was worth watching both teams perform and meeting the [Mark Keppel] team.”
The Crosstown Scrimmage included several individual and group pieces of varying lengths and storylines. Of these poets, junior Mehran Alam speaks of his time dedicated to refining his poem and performance as calming.
“[Performing] was very relieving,” Alam said. “Releasing your emotions to an audience is very relieving, but also nerve-racking. It was very enjoyable and something [out] of my comfort zone.”
English teachers Jordan Vogel and Catherine Burkhart are currently advising and coaching the members of the 2019 SG Get Lit team. Both have seen their poets grow as storytellers and become stronger with their passion for poetry.
“This was almost like a dress rehearsal to practice being on stage and performing with [microphones] in front of an audience,” Vogel said. “I think it is incredibly difficult to get up in front of people and share a piece of yourself. I am so proud [of them].”
The Classic Slam Quarters and Semi Finals will be on April 25-26, followed by the Grand Slam Finals on April 27 at the Los Angeles Theater Company.