“Sweet and succulent as a peach.”
“Music makes me peaceful. It takes me away from the deceitful.”
“There are monsters, there are ghouls, but we are Bancroft, we are not fools.”
“The Lincoln Memorial, it’s very historical.”
Those were just a few of the lines dropped on the first night of the 14th annual DC SCORES Poetry Slam! at Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC) Wednesday. Fourteen schools representing DC Wards 1, 2, 4 and 5 owned the show for over two hours, waxing poetic and singing about everything from love, to “mysterious” women, to raging pain, to their schools and city, to saluting U.S. troops.
The Poetry Slam! — sponsored by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Humanities Council of Washington, DC — was emceed by local spoken word artist Kom, aka "Mr. Keep on Moving," and Cortney Hicks of Majic 102.3 FM. As always, DJ RBI provided the beats, and a panel of honorary judges included Poetry Slam! regular attendee Clyde Simms of D.C. United and Lori Lindsey and Becky Sauerbrunn of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.
At the end of the night, Perry Street Prep’s poets rushed the stage in a furor after their name was called as Golden Mic champions. Moments earlier, first place in the middle school division went to Shaw, which was performing in just its second Slam!.
An audience of over 400 students, parents and other supporters packed into the CHEC auditorium was captivated the entire night by thought-provoking performances, entertaining and silly poems, and, most salient, the tremendous courage shown by poet-athletes to stand front and center on stage and perform.
Each school’s performance included two group poems and an individual poem, and for the majority of the individuals, it was their first time alone in the spotlight.
No student overcame their nerves better than Perry Street Prep’s Deandre W., who took home the Shine Award for best elementary school individual performance after reading an ode to his mother. Deandre didn’t even hesitate or falter when, mid-poem, the subject of his reading yelled out, “That’s my baby!”
Deandre then joined his fellow poet-athletes for a poem about being strong and belonging follpwed by an incredible acting performance about “burning inside from this raging pain.” Not long after, they were hoisting the large Golden Mic trophy.
Other standout performances by elementary schools included Naomi of Tubman reading about her proud Hispanic roots; Thomson using poetry to tell the story of a soccer game, including the memorable line, “The other team scowled because of the foul”; a Brookland poet-athlete dressed in a army uniform reciting a tribute to U.S. troops, including the line, “Your bravery is outstanding whether on land, in the air, or on the sea”; Truesdell’s poet-athletes addressing their futures with lines such as, “Dear future, I want to be a nurse who helps people in pain”; and Bancroft’s Elder bringing down the house with his poem about women, including, “Women are mysterious. It’s hard to know when they’re serious.”
Middle schools at the Poetry Slam! are required to create songs from their original works, and no school did a better job of this Wednesday night than Shaw. The poet-athletes undoubtedly benefited from participating in the ASCAP Songwriter Residency @ America SCORES in mid-October, when they created and recorded an original song with the help of acclaimed hip-hop artist Psalm One.
They took what they learned from the experience and turned it into three group songs that had audience members swaying to the melodies produced on stage. Shaw’s poets capped off their performance with a song about their home city, singing, “DC … DC … the place for you and me … so many sites to see...” The lead singer was eighth-grader Lorenzo M., who also took home the Shine Award for middle schools.
When the singing was over, the students gathered center stage for a group bow — a sign of a seasoned group of performers.
The host school Lincoln won second place for middle schools with a performance highlighted by the rap “Life is to Love,” which culminated with the tossing of rose petals into the first few rows of the audience.
The two-hour show offered a bit of everything, and it was only the first night of DC SCORES’ premiere fall event. Don’t miss out on another 13 schools performing tonight at the brand-new H.D. Woodson High School (map) at 6 p.m.
Below is the full list of winners from the first night of the 2011 DC SCORES Poetry Slam!.
1st place — Perry Street Prep
2nd place — H.D. Cooke
3rd place — Bancroft
Spirit award — Brookland
Shine award — Deandre W., Perry Street Prep
1st place — Shaw
2nd place — Lincoln
Spirit award — Oyster-Adams
Shine award — Lorenzo M., Shaw