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Teens To 'Slam' at Annual Poetry Event

Heights Libraries hosting competition for teens

Teens slamming each other? That’s hardly news. Unless it’s the Teen Poetry Slam.

The 13th Annual Teen Poetry Slam at Heights Libraries’ Lee Road branch has become a premier event for the community’s young adult crowd, attracting as many as 100 participants and spectators in the past. Heights Libraries puts on the slam in partnership with Lake Erie Ink, a Cleveland heights-based nonprofit that provides creative expression opportunities and academic support to youth in the Greater Cleveland community.

“Simply put, a poetry slam is a literary sparring match showcasing the competitive art of performance poetry,” says Amy Rosenbluth, co-director of Lake Erie Ink. “It puts a dual emphasis on writing and performance, encouraging poets to focus on what they're saying and how they're saying it. The energy created feeds both the poets and the audience.” 

Competitors recite original works of poetry before an audience of their peers and a group of five adult judges from the community. Poets are judged on their lyrics, rhymes and talents, and are encourages to speak their minds and from their hearts. At past slams, themes have ranged from love, domestic violence, rivalry, school life, to our nation’s economic crisis.

“The Slams are a lot of fun, but they can be very moving experiences too,” says Youth Services Associate Tim Cable.  “These teens use their poetic talents to relate elements of their life that they may not otherwise feel comfortable talking about.”

This year’s judges are:

Jeff Coryell  is an artist, attorney, and community activist. He has resided in Cleveland Heights for 18 years.

Halle Bauer is an aspiring educator and the coordinator of the Student Group on Race Relations at Shaker Heights High School. This is her third year judging the Heights Libraries Poetry Slam.

Ali McClain is a local poet and  is currently serving as the Youth Services Director at West Side Community House where she leads over 100 girls a year in an after school and summer arts program called Sisterhood.

Cavana Faithwalker, currently the Poet Laureate of the City of Cleveland Heights  is also a singer, plays didgeridoo and is a visual and performance artist.

Terraya Lewis is a youth services associate at Heights Libraries Noble Neighborhood branch with considerable experience working with teens and performing at poetry slams.

Phoenix Clouden, MC for the night  is a spoken word poet, performer and coach who is currently a teaching artist for Playhouse Square. He was also coach of the Cleveland Youth Poetry Slam Team from 2009 to 2012.

Spectators and participants are encouraged to attend this free lyrical boxing match on Thursday, January 31, at 6:30 p.m. at the Lee Road branch of Heights Libraries at 2345 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights.  More details are available from Tim Cable at 216.932.3600.

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