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The call was between “Things We Don’t Need” and “I am, She Is, He Is, We Are” in the annual Family Focus Poetry Slam held on May 22 in the theater in the Weissbourd-Holmes Family Focus building, 2010 Dewey Ave.
The 16 members of Clutch Champions Poetry Team, sixth-through eighth-graders, and 18 members of Defenders of the Dream Poetry Team, second- through fifth-graders, worked on their individual and group poems all year, said Beth Jacobs, an expressive writing teacher who has worked at Family Focus for more than a decade.
Three opening acts preceded the slam itself. Nikko Ross presented his poem “Don’t Buy the Switch.” His conclusion: “Take back what’s yours instead of buying in stores.”
The Defenders of the Dream Dance Troupe, which had formed spontaneously from the poetry group, performed a dance in their black T-shirts with “Young, Gifted, Black” printed in gold. Strong Minds, the newest group, cut their poetic teeth on memorizing poetry. Holding a paper chain, which they broke with the first words of Langston Hughes’s “Dreams,” the group recited Nikki Giovanni’s “Because,” and Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird.”
The judges, Nina Uziel-Miller, Ph.D., Rules Jean and Maia Hubbard, LPC, rated the young poets on content and presentation. Sianna Waters of Defenders of the Dream won, with Chayse Johnson and Trinity Hampton close seconds, and the team prize went to the Clutch Champions.
“Remember, the numbers are the numbers,” Ms. Jacobs told the young poets. “The words come from your heart.”