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In the fifth annual youth poetry slam at Family Focus on May 23, the Dream Team poets won the day over Legendary T.U.X.  These 12 poets, 9 to 11 years old, took their places quietly on stage and then began with a shout, “Big Kids, Listen Up.”

With rhythm and rhyme, each Dream Team youth spoke a few lines to big kids, describing how they feel about where they are in a world that is both loving and confusing: “How dare you look at the difference in ages?”; “I am happy when I am with the people I love”; “You’re cool, but you’re acting like a fool.”

The older poets in Legendary T.U.X.:  – 12 to 14 years – took a more serious tone, musing on love, loneliness, and violence, in “Learning About Love & Pain,” with the refrain “Will It Ever Stop?”

Lucia Luckett-Kelly, C. Russell Price, and Ashanti Temple served as judges, awarding the evening’s prize for best poem to Chris for “Pure Nonsense.” A few lines from the poem read, “Everybody knows I have a future in front of me/And I say this pure nonsense/but second thought, it’s pure wisdom …”

Before the slam itself, the final event of the evening, the poets read their poems, each standing alone on the dimly lit stage, words and voice shining the light on their thoughts. The few members of the audience, including the poets themselves, were enthusiastic, clapping, snapping, and cheering after each reading.

Christina Lorenzo and Beth Jacobs taught the weekly Expressive Writing class over the past several months.  “Christina and I just love working with the kids. Sometimes they seem like it’s the last thing they want to do after a long day of school and all, but then they have a way of getting engaged and producing such beautiful writing,” Ms. Jacobs told the RoundTable.

At the poetry slam, Ms. Jacobs complimented the young poets on their work. “We meet at 5,” she told the audience, “and somehow, something happens. There is a word, two or more words – and a poem appears.”

I Wonder Why

I wonder why when I wake up           the first thing I hear is a black boy just diedI wonder why people judge people becausethey don’t got Jordans on their feetI wonder why men call their self realbut the first person to pick up a gunI wonder why men bring women downinstead of lifting them upI wonder why whites and blacksdon’t like each otherI wonder why a man named Donald Trumpis trying to bring the world downI wonder why                ~Yaris

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...