Slam Poets Thriving at Copper Hills


Slam poetry is a club established to teach self-expression through the freedom of a unique art form. It is a way for students at Copper Hills to share their perspectives and experiences with others weekly. Slam poetry allows students to go head to head against other student poets and share their poems in competition. It also gives students the opportunity to examine the world around them with other team members.

While slam poetry has a class (entitled Performance Poetry) that members can take during school, others can participate in the club without taking the class. “Come after school on Thursdays to our slam poetry. Bring some of your work; we’d love to listen,” invites Avery January, Slam Poetry President. 

Though January joined by taking the performance poetry class taught by Ms. Oda, Bailey Parkinson, also a member of the club, was persuaded to join by her peers. “I’ve always liked writing and doing poetry, so she [Parkinson’s best friend] was like, ‘you should join it!’… so I just did.”

Each member has had a different experience with slam poetry, but a common theme of inclusion is obvious. The club is very diverse and strives to  create an environment where students feel free of judgement for expressing their differences or unique perspectives. It is a very safe space where everyone can fully express themselves. “It’s very vulnerable. It has a very vulnerable environment where people can just be raw with each other which is nice. It is a breath of fresh air compared to normal school,” explained Sage Waddoups.

Many other places may make people feel like they do not fit in. However, slam poetry does not. “It’s super fun, super close. Casual,” says Beck Banza, Sophomore, another slam poetry regular.

The group also offers assistance with a variety of things apart from writing poetry. “They’re really helpful in overcoming your fear of talking in front of everybody…they encourage you to do better,” says Parkinson. Much of the public speaking experience is gained by participating in competitions.

Competitions are full of energy and excitement. They are held on the last Friday of every month and the location varies each time; the December competition was held at Copper Hills in the media center. The order in which each team presents their poems changes from round to round for a total of four rounds. Coaches like Ms. Oda, former Grizzly Sammi Walker, or Dr. Haslam implement strategies that they hope will score the highest per poet per round.

Each round, one person from each team is called up to share one of their poems. Judges will then score each poem on a 1-10 scale based on their personal rating of the poem and its presentation. The highest and lowest score for each poem are dropped and the remaining three scores are combined to make the poet’s total for the round. Scores are totaled throughout the competition, and the team with the highest total score at the end is the winner.

If a student would like to learn more about slam poetry, they are welcome to just show up. Meetings are held each Thursday, right after school, in Dr. Haslam’s room, 2802, or Ms. Oda’s room, 2804. For more information, speak to either teacher.