There was a common theme at Wednesday night's Poetry Slam! And, big surprise, it was the praising of the late, great Michael Jackson.
Three of the 10 assembled elementary schools performed a tribute to Jackson, with two schools using each letter of "M-I-C-H-A-E-L" to say different attributes of Jackson they loved.
But it was Brookland Elementary School that celebrated on stage after being named the winner of the Golden Mic trophy for the best overall performance. They were all smiles after breathlessly awaiting to hear their name called in a competition that was extremely hard to predict for anyone watching.
"We lost (soccer) games but we won the Poetry Slam!" a Brookland girl exclaimed as her teammates posed for pictures after the trophy presentation.
In front of a large audience that stretched into the back rows of the Columbia Heights Education Campus' auditorium, the Brookland team performed a variety of poems that showed off their creative writing. Their two group works were a song about how the urban music raggaeton makes them feel and a back-and-forth performance about why beavers and bulldogs aren't all that different.
Original, that's for sure.
Brookland's individual poems were creative as well. Briana P. took the microphone and said, "I will be on top of the world, but for right now / I’m just a special kind of girl..." during her "Who am I?" poem, which told the audience who Briana is ("I love flair") as well as who she'll become ("One day I’ll win an Emmy"). Rahim B. performed a poem with the same title and wasn't so sure who he's going to be -- he has plenty of time to figure that out! -- creating a great contrast to Briana's work.
Other highlights of the 13 elementary schools' performances included Tubman's "When I grow up" work, which garnered the Toads the Spirit award; Bancroft's poets standing in parallel lines and telling each other, in great rhythm, "How to make the best team poem," which helped them earn second place; and many other performances.
Oyster-Adams won the middle school Slam!, which also featured Lincoln (second place) and MacFarland (Spirit award). As a spectator, it's enjoyable to see the middle-school performances mixed in with the others because they bring a different aspect to the stage: music. Each piece of work is read or sung against the backdrop of a musical beat prepared before the Slam!
Oyster-Adams was clearly ready to take the stage, as the bilingual school performed two poems about soccer in English and had the audience swaying to a pair of Spanish songs -- one slower and performed by a group of girls and the other a rap with a great beat by three boys.
As good as Oyster was, the most courageous performance of the night, no doubt, had to go to Martha R. of Lincoln, who was the lone performer from the host school. An hour before the Slam!, she was practicing on stage, and when she retook the platform and calmly grasped the microphone, she put on a tremendous show to earn the Shine award (given to the best individual performer).
Lincoln classmate Idania A. wrote the lyrics for "My original poem," and Martha did the performing, singing how the original poem "brings out the best of me" and how "I'm able to express my feelings through a song."
Overall, the night was full of excitement from start to finish. All 13 schools performed for at least five minutes; there was an entertaining dance-off that was extremely popular (DC SCORES kids sure know how to do the "Stanky Leg"); and toward the end of the night, Stephen Harrell of Bicycle Stations presented 26 deserving students with certificates for free bikes from his 14th Street store.
Guy Lambert and Angie Corley of WPGC-FM and Black Boo of Mambo Sauce band did a stellar job MCing the event amd DJ RBI smoothly transitioned from one performance to the next with an array of beats.
And it was only the first night of the 12th annual Poetry Slam! Come to Kelly Miller Middle School tonight for what should be a super-competitive Eastside Slam! featuring 10 DC SCORES schools.
Below is the full list of winners from the 2009 Westside Poetry Slam!
Brookland -- 1st place
Bancroft -- 2nd place
Hyde -- 3rd place
Tubman -- Spirit Award
Daniella, HD Cooke -- Shine Award
Oyster-Adams -- 1st place
Lincoln -- 2nd place
MacFarland -- Spirit Award
Martha R., Lincoln -- Shine Award