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Last week, teenagers from across Portland descended on The Wonder Ballroom to cheer on their friends at the second annual Verselandia poetry slam. OPB’s digital producer, Ifanyi Bell, attended the event. He says:

It’s one of those events where for maybe three, or four (or maybe more) kids, their participation in this poetry event likely altered the trajectory of their lives.

In 2004, a teacher-librarian at Madison High School ran the area’s first high school poetry slam. That grew into this event that involves schools from across Portland and is supported by Literary Arts, Portland Monthly Magazine and Wieden & Kennedy

Here’s a brief explanation of what the kids do from the National Poetry Slam competition:

The top five winners from Verselandia won the chance to perform live at Wieden & Kennedy, and be interviewed on Think Out Loud (among other prizes). This year’s winners were:

  • 1st Place: Micah Fletcher, Madison High
  • 2nd Place: Ke’Shayla Brown, Metropolitan Learning Center
  • 3rd Place: Jess Faunt, Cleveland High
  • 4th Place: Sydney Oliver, Grant High
  • 5th Place: Lauren Steele, Jefferson High

Have you ever attended — or performed at — a poetry slam? If you had three minutes to slam on a topic, what would it be?

high school literary arts poetry

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OPB | Broadcast: May 8, 2013