Greenleaf’s poetry slam a snappy success

The scent of roasted coffee beans hung in the air,

like the words of each poem that each poet brought to share.

Snapping intertwines, showering praise beyond belief,

all of this, of course, in Guilford’s own Greenleaf.

Please, please, hold your snapplause.

Friday April 15, the Greenleaf held their first annual poetry slam. The room was packed with seemingly every chair in the co-op coffee shop, each filled with students listening and, of course, snapping to the poetry of nine competing poets.

“A lot of the planning is just getting people to show up,” said junior Colin Nollet, organizer and one of three judges of the slam. “Once people are there, poetry slams really kind of run themselves.”

Poems varied greatly in topic, ranging from the imagined discussion between two rocks to mermaids and feminism.

“I yearn to run my prongs along your B-side,” said sophomore Jonah Woodstock, performing a poem about his Betamax Player.

Woodstock, as it would turn out, placed first.

“I’ve been doing poetry since my sophomore year of high school,” said Woodstock. “My senior year, we started an avant-garde poetry club. There were five people, and two of them were adults. We just did weird stuff.

“I have experience here and there but not a whole bunch. (At this event) there was a great energy, a huge turnout and it was just really fun. I think it’s a great thing to do.”

Nollet, alongside Associate Professor of English Diya Abdo and Associate Professor of Political Science Maria Rosales, served as judges for the evening.

Performers were judged in four areas: physical presence, content and feeling, preparedness and performance. Judges scored each poet out of 20 points: the first two areas worth five points and the last two worth three and seven, respectively.

“It’s hard because certain poetry slams are looking for different things,” said Nollet. “When it’s bringing your own poems, it’s more about how it makes the audience feel and how well they are there in the moment.”

Sophomore Rachel Chmelko placed second, with Jhanna Vasser finishing in third.

Every poet, however, offered the audience an entertaining evening by sharing their work, which in itself is worthy of commendation.

“I thought it was dope,” said first-year Olivia Winder. “I came here to support my friend Rachel, and she was dope. All the poets were really passionate about what they do. It was beautiful. I’m glad I didn’t miss it.”

This, the staff of the Greenleaf hopes, will be the first of many annual poetry slams. Given the success of the first, it would be hard to disagree.

“I performed a lot of my poetry live in high school and loved doing it,” said junior Edward Sandberg, one of the poets who performed. “The other night, I saw it as a definitive chance to go back to doing that, and I really loved it. I really would like to participate in more of these if there are going to be more of them.”

Though this year’s slam was only their initial hosting, the Greenleaf provided a lively venue for some of Guilford’s poets to perform for the first time.

“I thought it went great for our first ever one,” said Nollet. “I was really excited because a lot of the poets that showed up had never performed before, and they were all really good in their own ways.”