See photos from the season on Flickr.
Written by Mir’ed Asfour
DC SCORES Intern
Last week was showtime for the Marie Reed poets. The night had finally arrived, and the seats were packed in the Columbia Heights Education Campus auditorium. It was a full house. The Reed students sat patiently as school after school delivered their performances. The pressure built until finally, it was their turn.
Marie Reed’s boys and girls walked onto the stage after being introduced, by emcee Courtney Hicks, as the school that started DC SCORES in 1994. Following the Poetry Slam! format, the Panthers performed three poems -- “Beauty comes from within,” “I am a diamond,” and “Having Fun.”
The performance was highlighted by Kastenny C.’s solo performance of “I am a diamond.” The week before the Slam!, she expressed her excitement about performing on stage and talked about how she had been working toward her solo for the previous few weeks.
On Wednesday, Kastenny walked up to the microphone, and without hesitation, began reciting:
I am a diamond, I can shine against the sun,
No one can shine like me,
I am strong, beautiful, and unique,
No one on Earth is quite like me.
What makes me smile is when others smile,
But sometimes when I’m angry I’m like boiling steam,
My expressions and feelings are my own,
No one is quite like me.
I’ll never hurt such kind,
I am as sweet as a plum,
and as sour as a lime,
I sing, I dance, I sit alone, and I play,
No one will get me that way.
That is what makes me a diamond,
I am not the same as you, you or you (pointing toward audience)
And that’s okay, because there’s no one I’d rather be.
I shine, and I’ll never break a promise,
That is what makes me shine,
I am a diamond in the sky.
Kastenny delivered her poem with great poise, which masked what she was feeling inside. displayed.
“I felt nervous,” she said. “I didn’t think it was that good.”
As Kastenny walked back to her group of classmates, she received a thunderous applause from the audience.
At the end of the Poetry Slam!, the winners were announced. Unfortunately, Marie Reed did not place among the elementary schools; however, it was an exciting night for Kastenny. The audience, the students, and the coaches all waited in baited anticipation for the announcement of the Shine Award for the outstanding individual elementary school performance.
To her own disbelief, Kastenny won.
“I was thinking that they called my name by accident,” Kastenny said five days after the Slam!.
She walked from her seat in the left aisle of the auditorium as everyone cheered for her. As she reached the stage, tears ran down her cheeks. And when she was given the trophy, she wore a shocked expression for all to see.
“They were tears of joy and anxiousness,” she said.
Kastenny explained later that she wrote the winning poem on her own, using her classmates as inspiration.
“When I was in class, my teacher told me to express myself, so I wrote about what my friends thought of me,” she said.
For Kastenny, receiving the trophy was not her highlight of the night. Rather, she was moved by the support of her inspiration, her peers.
“I’m proud of myself,” said Kastenny, who proudly shows off her new piece of hardware. “I left it on top of my refrigerator for everyone to see.”
It was a job well done, and she earned it. Her poem moved the entire audience, especially the judges who could be seen clapping and smiling throughout the poem. For Kestenny, all her hard work paid off and resulted in a night she will remember for the rest of her life.
On Wednesday night, Kastenny was a diamond, and nobody was quite like her.