When you go to a Poetry Slam, you must be ready to experience an intense reality check. Prepare for chills to race down your spine and the release of adrenaline that accelerates your heartbeat to the speed of each poem’s rhythm. The Poetry Slam Fundraiser on Friday, Oct. 30 hosted by Ole Spring Relief (OSR) was no exception. Students gathered in Ytterboe lounge ready to indulge in the beautiful artistry of socially relevant poetry.
Starting off the slam on a good note was the guest of honor, Blythe Baird, a 19-year-old poet, actress, feminist and now author from Hamline University. Baird was the youngest competitor at the 2014 National Poetry Slam, representing Chicago. Baird performed fierce poems on body image, feminism, rape culture and girl code that resonated throughout the room and generated snaps and applauses.
Halfway through her performance Baird described her love for performing poetry.
“I love doing poems in [new] places because I feel like once I do it I don’t let it go but let it live outside of me.”
After Baird’s performance, the contest began with eight students competing in three rounds. After each round, the poets were scored and gradually eliminated. The poems performed were diverse, with topics ranging from the environment, love, what makes us human, death and many others.
It was a tight competition, with many poems recieving scores of eight or nine. In the third round, only two poets remained, Julia Ebert ’18 and Erica Hoops ’18. Ultimately, Hoops was crowned champion of the first Poetry Slam Fundraiser.
The Poetry Slam is one of the new fundraisers OSR has decided to introduce to the campus, offering a different type of event that encourages the community’s participation.
“For fundraising, it wasn’t the most successful [event] in terms of the money created,” OSR event planner Charles Platt ’16 said, “but overall it was a successful event because it helped the OSR committee bond and it is was a cool thing to create an event that the St. Olaf community could participate in.”
Claire Mumford ’18 further appraised the success of the event in the midst of an eventful Halloween weekend.
“The turnout was awesome. I was a little nervous because it’s such a busy weekend but a lot of people came and they really enjoyed it,” Mumford said.
Tickets for the event cost $2 each, and the OSR committee based the decision of the price tag by taking the budget of a college student into consideration.
“[We were inspired] by In Black – they do a $1 ticket – and the idea behind that is that you don’t even notice that you’re paying, and with $2 it’s like it’s nothing. We wanted people to come but not be deterred by the price,” Platt said.
OSR has done other fundraisers in the past such as mini golf and selling t-shirts. This year they are continuing to sell creative t-shirts, their biggest fundraiser. They also plant to focus on more collaborations with Hogan Brothers, so be on the look out for more events hosted by OSR.
Should the St. Olaf community expect another Poetry Slam in the near future? “It’s definitely a viable option. In terms of the number of students interested as well as the possibility for expansion of the event by inviting guest judges or notable community members on campus on being designed judge to help hype up the event,” Leah Suffern ’17 said.
Like all other fundraisers done by OSR, the purpose is to reduce the expenses of the popular Ole Spring Relief trip, where Oles volunteer to spend their spring break providing assistance to communities who experienced some type of disaster. Additionally, the fundraisers enable the provision of scholarships to selected students who wouldn’t be able to participate in the trip otherwise.