Competitive English

Teenagers see and hear a lot more than their parents think.

Instead of just describing teen angst and whining about the pains of growing up, students in the South Colonie Central School District put a pen to paper to access their creative talents by putting their thoughts and feelings into poetry.

It changed me, said Freshman Alexys Rickson. "It did. From last year when I did the Poetry Slam, I want to keep doing this."

Supervised by Sand Creek eighth grade English teacher Marc Mostransky, the students held the third annual Teen Poetry Slam at the Barnes and Noble in Colonie Center on Friday, April 29. The cafE area where the stage was set up for the performers was packed as fellow students, parents and teachers attentively listened to the young poets.

Mostransky said he got the idea by watching a New York Knicks game and seeing an advertisement for a poetry slam. It was just around the time he was about to his unit on poetry, and after seeing the commercial, he decided to go a more unconventional route.

"To see the teenagers were so empowered by it and the literary aspect of it was through the roof," Mostransky said of the slam. "The merit of the usage of metaphors was just phenomenal. Its roots are kind of in the MC and hip-hop world. It's not what we typically hear in mainstream. It's more like intelligent rhymes. There's just a clear message to the poems."

To make it through the competition, though, he said there can't be several poems just about teen relationships. And it appears that the students have taken notice, with topics covering the death of a grandmother, the pains of drug addiction, suicide or teen pregnancies.

"I don't really do humorous stuff because I don't feel like I'm a funny person," said 10th-grader Jake Camadine. "I try and handle issues in society that face adults and teens alike and that aren't gender specific. Stuff we can all relate to like typical stuff teens go through like drug abuse."

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