CHS Slammers

Cheltenham High Poetry Slam

I had a wonderful experience tonight. I spent the evening at the local high school because a couple of teens I know were showcasing their poetry at the Cheltenham High School Poetry Slam. Many of these kids compete regionally (in the greater Philadelphia area) as part of a school team. While there was a little bit of what you would expect from high school student poetry (broken hearts, teen angst, etc.), there was also some pretty profound stuff going on. One poem was about an absent father, and it moved skillfully between rage, humor, regret, and wisdom. Another student reached out to a friend lost to the pursuit of an easy high, and tried to call her back with reflections on the joys of a middle school life full of simple pleasures and youthful confidence. A third student poignantly reflected on the Daily Routine of being stopped and harassed by white cops for simply being out and about and a young black man in our town. The poets celebrated the preciousness of family and of the moment (in their delight in the weather, in the moments of connection, or not, at a party, in the music of a band in the train station), and they mourned the loss of parents, of cousins shot dead in their prime, of siblings falsely imprisoned. There were lines and phrases that will stay with me–“Don’t you know I’m some species of unlovable”–delivered with poise and precision by kids just 15 to 18 years old, kids who have mined their moments and inner experiences for the gems strung artfully into creations delivered tonight to a large, but sadly pretty segregated, crowd. White Cheltenham, PA, you are missing out on beautiful, powerful stuff by overlooking this event. Even the emcees were wonderful. They had great chemistry, did nice interviews with the poets while the judges were scoring the poems, and kept the evening moving. This event lasted almost 4 hours, and it flew by. I pray these kids keep writing, keep performing, keep receiving the encouragement they got from the warm and expressive crowd tonight, and keep supporting one another with the incredible camaraderie they showed amid the competition for tonight’s prize. These kids make me grateful and proud to be part of their community.

Poets and Emcees

Keep your eyes peeled for the future work of:
Ray Patterson (winner)
Jeremy Goldsmith (2nd place)
Dana Kluchinski (3rd place)
Mcintosh Bazile (finalist)
and the other wonderful competitors:
Maya Alston
Amber Bell
Naiyanna Brown
Justina Davidson
Aryeh Harris-Shapiro
Najja Lawson
Koby Leff
Amber Martin
Jaliah Matthews
Chase Roberts
and Mecca Smith

with emcees: Rachel Bain, Michael Fuller, Judah Klein, and Francine Marquis.

About Beth Parks Aronson

I am Associate Professor of Psychology at Lamar University. Previously, I was a psychologist in private practice in Jenkintown, PA where I specialized in anxiety disorders and working with people living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. I am a little addicted to good literature. Ok, a lot addicted.
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4 Responses to CHS Slammers

  1. rswwall says:

    Beth, thank you for attending this year’s Slam.
    As co-sponsor with Keziah La Torre, we take great pride in the talents, and courage, of our students. We appreciate that others see and hear what we see and hear. Thank you for this beautiful piece.
    Randi Wall

    • You are most welcome. I will be back next year. Let me know if I can help in any way!

      • rswwall says:

        Thanks for your offer…maybe next year you can blog to advertise!.
        Since we are trying to make the community more aware of the students’ talents, the school newspaper, The Cheltonian, would love to publish your blog. Do you approve?

      • Absolutely–just ask Dana to look at what I said about her poem and see if it feels accurate to her so I can revise if needed before you publish it.

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