Poetry-slam dunk

Crowds of shoppers, parents and students watched South Colonie students spit fire during a competitive poetry competition at Barnes and Noble.

The second South Colonie Central School District sponsored Poetry Slam was held Saturday, May 1, with nearly 30 students competing.

Marc Mostransky, an eighth-grade English teacher at Sand Creek Middle School, along with Chris Carl, another teacher at the school, organized the event.

Mostransky said this was the second poetry slam he helped organize, and it has grown even since last year.

"The essence of the slam is that is it competitive," he said.

Using words with double meanings, playing with words and learning how to manipulate them is the goal of the slam, he said.

Students were judged on the poems and their delivery.

The students are afforded a chance to "express and release," their thoughts with free-form, spoken-word poems before the competition. There is no censorship in the practice workshops. Then if students choose, they can write and perform a poem for judging.

"The goal of each poet is to make you care," he said.

There are a number of academic benefits to participating, Mostransky said, such as learning to use figurative language and understanding how to create poetry, while also giving the students "incredible self-esteem" and "camaraderie with fellow writers."

Next year Mostransky said he wants to open up the competition to other districts.

Poems ranged in content, from Amanda Gabriel's work about being "an open book," to Elijah Rush who "spit fire" about his "journey" to Ethan Tollisen, who took a different direction and discussed his favorite cheeseburger " the Big Mac.

Briana Pagan, who blended Spanish and English in her poem took first place, as she covered the controversial issue of teen pregnancy and the pressure of the decision to carry the baby to term.

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